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Full text of "Bellah [electronic resource]: a tale of La Vendee : from the French"



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ON JANUARY 1st, 1851, 

G. P. B. JAMES The Brigand; or, Corse de Leon. 



THE PARLOUR LIBRARY. 

LI. 



BE LL AH; 

A TALE OF LA YENDEE. 



B E L L A PI ; 



A TALE OF LA VENDEE. 



FROM THE FRENCH. 



EDITED BY THE 



AUTHOE OF "TWO OLD MEN'S TALES.' 



LONDON: 
SIMMS AND M'INTYRE, 

PATERNOSTER ROW; AND DONEGALL STREET, BELFAST. 
1850. 



BELLAH; 

A TALE OE LA YENDEE. 



" Tlie knight tliat you behold yonder, with gilt armour, is the 

valorous Laurculco, Lord of the Silver Bridge; that other 

is the redoubtable Micocolembo, Grand Duke of Quirolia." — Don 
Quixotr. 



At the extremity of a small bay, scooped out by the 
ocean on the southern coast of Finistcrre, nestles the 

village of F , which, before it was infested by 

artists, contained numerous very pretty women dressed 
in very charming costumes. Unfortunately, in course 
of time, the artists appeared among them, and the 

women of F learned that their colouring was 

good and their style becoming; in short, that they 
were picturesque; so they now wear their national 
costume awkwardly, and appear as if they had stolen 
their ancestral head-dresses. 

In the year 1795, the happy calm enjoyed by 
this little village seated peaceably on the shore, as 
one may say between the ocean and the Revolution, 
was a phenomenon worthy of observation. Till this 
period, the Breton insurrection had few adherents in 
this extreme point of the peninsula, though, it is true, 
the Republic was not much approved of, especially 
since it had changed the bishopric into a department. 
The fishermen of F had not heard with indiffe- 



C beixaii; 

rence of tlie trick played them by the vexatious 
authorities, as their rector called the Committee of 
Public Safety; but vexatious as in truth the authori- 
ties were, their direct connexion with the fishermen 
being confined to this piece of childish folly, they had 
not been provoked into carrying into execution a 
project for joining " les gars," as the young fellows 
were called, of Coquereau and Bois-Hardy. Their 
boat*, their houses, and their property, being respected, 
and even their old rector, in spite of the intolerance of 
bis language, remaining either unknown or tolerated, 
these good people, finding that the Republic had for- 
gotten them, learned on their side also to forget the 
Republic. 

Such was the disposition, at once prudent and 
generous, which the inhabitants of F — — - enter- 
tained towards the National Convention, when, at 
break of day, on the 1 2th of June, 1 795, this harmony, 
the fruit of mutual toleration, was suddenly disturbed. 
The noise of blows, struck with the butt end of a mus- 
ket against the doors of the most considerable houses 
of the place, awakened the inhabitants, who beheld 
with dismay the blue uniforms and red plumes 
of the grenadiers of the Republic appearing in the 
church-square. 

A detachment of fifty men, preceded by two officers 
on horseback, had invaded the village, and thus vio- 
lated all the neutral rights which time seemed to have 
secured for this little corner of the Avorld, as yet 
unstained by revolutionary tears. 

However, the panic caused in the village by this 
unexpected agression, gave away by degrees before 
tlie pacific assurances of the officers, and the friendly 
proceedings of the soldiers; and the inhabitants soon 
felt no other anxiety on the subject than to discover the 
object of this expedition. In spite of the smallness of 
the detachment, the rank of one of the officers, who 
wore a colonel's epaulettes, seemed to indicate that the 



a tali: op la vkxdem. 



object of this military incursion was not without im- 
portance. Behind the little republican column, were 
seen several saddle-horses led by a Breton peasant, 
dressed strictly according to the old national costume; 
an addition which, though it certainly bore an ami- 
cable appearance, yet threw fresh mystery upon an 
event already sufficiently mysterious. 

While the honest fishermen of F ■ were thus 

puzzling themselves with vain conjectures, they were 
disturbed by another appearance ecpially unusual. A 
frioate, apparently English, appeared in sight to the 
south of their bay, evidently manoeuvring so as to 
approach the coast as closely as prudence would 
allow a ship of its size to do. This second event was 
so far fortunate, that it furnished the inhabitants 
with the natural explanation of the first. It was 
clear that the frigate was preparing to land an 
invading force upon the coast, which the Blues who 
had arrived that morning had orders to resist. Now, 
a short mental comparison between the forces of the 
republican detachment and those which the frigate 
might contain, was sufficient to show the inevitable 
issue of the fight. This ingenious discovery put an 
end to the public fears, but it was not received in the 
village with unmingled pleasure, for to do the popula- 
tion of the Armorican coast justice, the colours of old 
England were not looked upon with a more favourable 
eye than were those of the French Republic. 

By a remarkable coincidence, the idea which the 
appearance of the frigate had awakened in the minds 
of the fishermen, was exactly that which was gaining 
ground amongst the soldiers scattered on the beach. 
Rude though pious children of that Republic, of which 
heroism was the daily and essential food, educated 
amidst the sound of deeds of fabulous hardihood, full 
of that patriotic pride which springs from great recol- 
lections, and is the inspirer of great actions, these brave 
fellows felt no alarm, however, at the prospect of that 



prodigiously unequal combat which they believed to 
be at hand. 

The question, nevertheless, was discussed with 
warmth by a group of five or six young grenadiers, who 
in their inexperience had considered it prudent in this 
imminent crisis to take the advice of a Serjeant, 
whose grey moustaches gave indisputable signs of long 
service. This personage, named Bruidoux, instead 
of answering the questions of his inferiors at once, 
judged it right in the first place to assert his dignity. 
He took from his hat a little checked handkerchief, 
spread it with precaution upon the sand, and seated 
himself with a kind of mock majesty upon this humble 
divan. Then taking some tobacco by little pinches 
from a leathern purse, the proper appellation of which 
escapes me, he began to fill his short earthen pipe with 
the methodical circumspection of a man who knows the 
value of things. After having pressed his thumb 
upon the mouth of the pipe, in order to level the sur- 
face of the precious weed, Bruidoux drew out a 
match-box, and struck a light with much solemnity. 
'When at length the lighted pipe was well fixed in 
the corner of his mouth, the grave serjeant stretched 
himself at full length upon the sand, placed his 
clasped hands between his head and the clamp beach, 
and sending enormous puffs of smoke upwards to the 
blue sky — 

" Now," said he, "what was it that you did me 
the honour to observe, Colibri?'' 

"It ain't me, serjeant," replied the awkward and 
puffy young man, whom Bruidoux addressed by the 
friendly soubriquet of Colibri ; "it's my comrades here, 
who declare that that great devil of a ship is going to 
land a set of ci-devants, and that we are here to 
hinder it. Do you believe that, serjeant?" 

"To this question," replied Bruidoux, "the learned 
might make fifty answers. As for me, Colibri, I 
shall only make two: primo, I believe it; secundo, I 



A TALE OF LA VENHKIS. !) 

hope it." Upon these words, which acquired a sort 
of sybilline authority from the lips from which 
they emanated, the young grenadiers looked askance 
at each other, communicating their secret impressions 
by a movement of the head, accompanied with a par- 
ticular grimace of the lower lip. 

"I suppose, serjcant," began Colibri again, some- 
what timidly, "that when you went to fight in 
America, you must have been a little time on ship- 
board?" 

"Naturally, my boy; because the land route was 
not invented when I crossed over to the New World : 
and to swim across would have been attended then, 
as it probably would be now, with many surprising 
difficulties." 

"Well then, serjeant, you must know how many 
men a vessel of the size of that now in sight is able 
to carry ? ' ' 

" In a ship of that build," replied Bruidoux, 
phlegmatically, "I have seen as many as fifteen hun- 
dred jolly fellows with bag and baggage, and yet 
some of them could play on the fiddle, with as much 
room for their elbows as a blind man in a public 
square. ' ' 

"Then," said Colibri, to whose mental vision this 
declaration disclosed a mournful prospect, ' ' then you 
think, serjeant, that yonder frigate might contain a 
thousand men ?" 

"With as much ease as I can smoke this pipe. 
What next, young man?" 

"We have only fifty," observed Colibri, with some 
hesitation. 

"Go on," said Bruidoux. 

"They'll be twenty to one, serjeant." 

"Will you do me the pleasure to tell me," replied 
the old soldier, "what is the name of that coloured 
rag which is perched at the top of the mast, and 
which begins to affect my sight disagreeably V 



10 BKLLAII; 

"It is the English flag-," said Colibri. 

"Good ! and will you be so amiable as to recall to 
my memory the name, surname, and title, of that 
jewel yonder?" demanded the Serjeant, pointing- to a 
tricoloured ensign, which fluttered in the wind above 
a pile of bayonets. 

"It is the standard of the Republic." 

"One and indivisible, citizen Colibri. Now, my 
boy, as at the present period a man is exposed to 
rather awkward encounters, if ever you find yourself 
upon a sudden in face of an army of Prussians, 
English, or any kind of federalists, tie a trifle like 
that to the queue of their general, and you will see 
him instantly turn tail with all his army, as fast as 
a young ci-devant when his worshipful mother's cook 
has trimmed his jacket with a dish-clout: that's all." 

"But, serjeant," began Colibri again, "if we are 
here to fight, what is the good of those saddle-horses 
which that lubberly peasant with the long hair is 
leading behind us ? ' ' 

"Those horses," answered the serjeant, after a 
moment's reflection, "are apparently destined for the 
prisoners of distinction." 

" Look there," cried Colibri, suddenly; "the frigate's 
standing still! " 

Serjeant Bruidoux, quitting his comfortable position, 
raised himself upon his elbow, shaded bis eves with Ids 
h and , and e xan lined the frigate attenti vely for a ni inute . 
"They are lying-to," answered lie, "and, if I do not 
mistake, they are lowering the boats. In an hour's 
time, my lads, we shall be exchanging a few bard 
blows." Thereupon Bruidoux shook the ashes from 
his pipe, and charging it with as many tender pre- 
cautions as at first, lie proceeded: "one thing, Colibri, 
you will bo glad to learn, viz. that we are beyond 
the range of their cannon. If this coast, instead of 
being set with rocks for a league round, had been 
such a one as I have often seen, Avliere a first rate 



A TALE OP LA VENDEE. 11 

man-of-war sails along as quietly as a lady in a drawing- 
room, the frigate, do you see, would have taken ground 
to our left, while the troops would have attacked us 
on the right; in this way, Ave should have been fired 
at in front, and at the same time raked in our flank, 
which would have rendered our position somewhat 
critical." 

As the Serjeant finished speaking, the frigate was 
seen to lower a boat. This circumstance excited fresh 
interest among the fishermen and soldiers. Scrutiniz- 
ing looks were turned now on the vessel, now anxiously 
on the leader of the republican troops, who, posted on 
a rock, was examining the movements of the English 
ship through a telescope. This person, who did not 
seem to be more than five-and-twenty, wore the 
heavy uniform of a colonel of the republic, with an 
elegance rather uncommon in the military manners 
of the time. The style of beauty which distinguished 
his countenance, the perfection of all those external 
signs in feature and proportion through which the 
eyes of the learned in such matters trace the marks 
of high descent, would at first sight have insured 
for the young officer a fraternal reception in the draw- 
ing-rooms of Vienna ; whilst his lofty brow, and the 
pensive sweetness of his eyes which contrasted with 
the firm lines about the mouth, would have also pro- 
cured him a flattering attention from any assembly 
of women, without regard to party. A few paces 
behind him stood a young man, barely nineteen, with 
fair hair and rosy cheeks, and wearing a light aide-de- 
camp's uniform. This youth figured as lieutenant on 
General IToche's staff, and shared the command of 
the expeditionary column with the young colonel. 

" Colonel Herve, " exclaimed the youngest of the 
two officers, perceiving that the tide was surrounding 
the rock which served him as an observatory, "I 
warn you that the tide is rising, and that the water 
will shortly be up to your knees." 



12 BELLAH; 

Colonel Herve turned round with an absent air, 
looked vaguely at the young aide-de-camp, like a man 
who is uncertain whether he is spoken to or not, and 
then returned to his telescope and his observations. 
The young aide-de-camp burst out laughing. " I 
tell you, colonel," he repeated, making a speaking- 
trumpet of his hands, " I tell you the tide is gaining 
upon you, and that you'll be drowned — be drowned! 
— do you hear! " 

The colonel started like a man awaking from a 
dream, looked round, and perceiving that his boots 
were already covered with water, sprang with one 
leap upon the beach, uttering an exclamation, the 
discreet and moderate character of which testified to 
his refined habits ; for a well educated man differs 
from a ruffian even in the most violent expressions 
into which he may be hurried. Then closing his 
telescope with deliberation, he began to pace rapidly 
to and fi'o upon the sands, apparently without any 
other object than to calm the agitation of his mind. 

Tbe anxious soldiers did not lose one of the move- 
ments of their commander. 

" I am sure," Colibri ventured to say, speaking 
loud enough to be heard by Bruidoux, though with- 
out addressing him directly, " I am sure the colonel 
is sorry he did not bring the whole batallion." 

Bruidoux continued to smoke with true oriental 
placidity : Colibri grew bolder. 

" The general must have been deceived as to the 
force of the enemy, otherwise he would have come 
himself with two or three batteries — " 

" Why not with the whole division, with the staff 
and the band?" interrupted Serjeant Bruidoux, in a 
thundering voice ; ' ' the whole republic ought to have 
marched, with all the sans-culotles of France and old 
Navarre, to preserve citizen Colibri's complexion. 
The general, do you say, you plucked sparrow '{ 
You — you're about to amuse yourself with disquisi- 



A TALK OF LA VENDUE. ll! 

lions upon the general's ideas, I presume! I sup- 
pose you are at present one of his council ? Have 
vou ever even read the Manual of a True Trooper? 
I doubt it, and this is the reason why I doubt it : 
because you are a perfect stranger to the theory of 
moral force; and therefore, Colibri, it is impossible 
for you to conceive in your pate the commanding splen- 
dour of the idea, the magnificent moral effect of the 
simple fact, that fifty grenadiers are sent against a 
thousand ci-devants. That we shall all be minced up 
to the last morsel, appears to me as probable as it 
does to you ; but the moral effect will not be the less 
produced, as the ci-devants will learn the exact value 
which we set upon them. And now, Colibri, as your 
courage appears to me to be a little tempered with 
prudence, I ought to warn you that if, while the balls 
are whistling in front, you were to feel blows from 
the butt end of a musket assailing you from behind, 
you need not give way to a childish surprise, seeing 
that I am personally acquainted with the individual 
who keeps such treasures in store for you!" 

Before Serjeant Bruidoux could perceive the moral 
effect of his last sentence upon the countenance of his 
subordinate, a sudden exclamation from the group 
which surrounded him, attracted his eyes to the sea. 
He then perceived, with astonishment, that one boat 
only had left the frigate, and was rowing towards 
the shore, while the noble ship herself was running out 
to sea. 

" They are sending us a parley," said the Serjeant : 
' ' one might term that prudent, if nothing more. You, 
Colibri, who have eyes like a stuffed eagle's, be so kind 
as to tell me what you perceive in that small boat?" 

" With all due respect to you, Serjeant, I think I 
perceive half-a-dozen petticoats." 

; ' Then they are Scotch, ' ' said Bruidoux. ' ' Among 
all the armies of the civilized world the Scotch are 
the only soldiers who fight in petticoats." 



14 BELL AH; 

"Serjeant," asked Colibri, "do the Scotch wear 
women's caps as well ?" 

"Women's caps!" said Bruidoux : "no; I don't 
think they do. You must mean turbans." 

" But there undoubtedly is one cap, Serjeant. 
They are most likely Scotchwomen." 

"All things are possible, " returned the serjeant, 
lying down again with philosophical composure ; "but 
if women are going to meddle with the game, good- 
night to you all." 

During this conversation, Colonel Herve, seated on 
the hull of an upturned boat, was drawing cabalistic 
figures on the sand with his sheathed sabre, while his 
thoughtful eyes seemed to be reading the invisible 
words presented by the confused pages of hope or 
recollection. A hand, laid softly on his shoulder, 
startled him out of his reverie; and at the same time 
a clear and almost boyish voice behind him ut- 
tered: " Well, Pelven, this is a happy moment for 

y 

" Happy! Francis," replied the young man, smil- 
ing with a thoughtful air; " that is as it may be. I 
have lived lono- enough already to know that no mo- 
ment ought to be called happy or unhappy till it is 
past and gone." 

"How!" replied Francis, interrogating, with a 
look full of affection, the melancholy countenance of 
his friend, "does not this vessel bring you your be- 
loved sister? Is not this the happiness for which you 
have been sighing these last two years?" 

' ' And do I even know, ' ' said Pelven, ' ' whether I 
shall find in her that sister whom I parted from, and 
whom I hope to meet ? She has lived so long among 
my enemies! She is taught to hate the uniform I 
wear by every one by whom she is surrounded." 

"Nil, no, it cannot be so!" cried the young aide- 
de-camp with vivacity, and his brow flushing. " I only 
require to know what you have told me of her, Herve, 



A TALE OF LA VENDEE. 



and what you have shown me of her letters, to be cer- 
tain that such a thing - is impossible!" 

"And then," returned Ilerve, smiling at the chi- 
valrous outburst of the young man, "my sister is 
not coming alone; she is accompanied by several 
people who, I know, do not love me; and you can 
understand, Francis, that it must be painful to me to 
sec coldness and hostility upon faces formerly fami- 
liar and friendly." 

" Would there be any extraordinary indiscretion, 
Colonel Herve, in asking you to describe the female 
occupants of the boat?" 

' ' At a time when politeness is one of the rarest of 
jewels, Lieutenant Francis, it is impossible for me 
not to satisfy a curiosity which is expressed with 
such punctilious propriety. I shall tell you nothing 
of Mademoiselle Andree de Pelven, my sister; for I 
have said too much about her already." Francis 
blushed again. ' 'But," continued the colonel, "you 
can excuse this weakness in a brother. Besides that 
young lady, the boat which you can discern at half a 
league's distance is honoured by carrying Madame 
Eleanore de Kergant, ci-devant canoness; she is sister 
to the Marquis de Kergant, my guardian. She is 
the most bitter enemy of the French Republic that I 
know, and the most tender friend to etiquette, savoir- 
vivre, and poudre a la reine, who has survived these 
days of abomination. Behind that lady, and at a 
respectful distance, you will perceive a young Basse 
Brette, who promised to be one of the most lovely 
creatures imaginable. She is called Alix. She is the 
daughter of Citizen Kado, that tall Breton guide who 
leads the horses, and whom you see yonder leaning 
against a mast. I beg you to observe, en passant, that 
with his long locks, broad-brimmed hat, and swelling- 
lower garments, and his coat a la Louis XIV the man 
is, after his fashion, a type of much beauty, and will 
give you an idea of the style that characterizes his 



16 BELlah; 

daughter. Alix was brought up at the chateau, where 
she lived in a sort of mixed condition: she is not a 
young lady, nor is she a waiting-maid. She has white 
hands, and can spell. To conclude, I presume you 
will remark, or you will not remark, at a distance 
still more respectful, an English or Scotch lady's maid 
or waiting-woman — a Miss Macgregor, who counts 
chieftains among her ancestors, and whom misfortune 
has reduced to a state of dependence. As the can- 
oness has only recently attached her to her service, I 
have never seen her; however, if you have a fancy for 
her portrait, I can give it to you: she is awkward 
and tall, with red hair, and takes snuff, under the rose. 
Are you satisfied, Francis':"' 

"Xot yet, colonel; for there are five women in the 
boat, and you have only enumerated four." 

"True," replied Ilerve de Pelven; and he con- 
tinued, with an air of embarrassment which did not 
escape his friend; "there is besides, (or there ought 
to be, for I can see nothing distinctly from this dis- 
tance), Mademoiselle Bellah de Kergant, daughter of 
the marquis, and niece of the canoness. The name 
of Bellah is traditionary in the family from the times 
of the Conans and Alains." 

"What! is that all," asked Francis. "Not one 
word of praise, nor even of criticism. I am com- 
pelled to conclude that the young lady is either de- 
formed or but too perfect, since your pencil does not 
condescend, or does not dare, to paint her." 

"It is always difficult to speak of one's enemies,'' 
said Herve. "I regret to say that I must count 
Mademoiselle de Kergant among the most ardent 
adversaries of the cause which I maintain. She is 
my sister's friend; I may say she felt for me, for 
many a long year, a sister's affection; but now I 
am nothing more to her than a wretch stained with 
the blood of his king, and defiled with the funeral 
ashes of all that she held sacred." 



A TALE OF LA VENDEE. 17 

A minute's silence succeeded these words, which 
the young colonel pronounced in a broken yet clear- 
toned voice, and he then went on: — 

"You shall see her, Francis; you shall tell me if 
ever artist represented the purity of a virgin and 
the soul of a martyr by a more divine countenance." 

Herve stopped again; and it was only after hav- 
ing turned away his head to conceal the alteration 
of his features, that he added: — - 

"The struggle is sometimes hard enough, Fran- 
cis, between the opinions and duties of a man's 
ripened age, and the sweet and cherished feelings of 
his childhood!" 

The young colonel rose as he spoke, and hastily 
strode across the beach, while the youthful lieutenant 
remained where he had received this half confidence, 
his eyes glistening, and his brow shaded with a cloud 
of melancholy to which the habitual gaiety of his 
countenance gave a touching character. 

We shall take advantage of the short space which 
still separates the English boat from the shore, to 
complete, as briefly as possible, an explanation un- 
fortunately indispensable to the most humble tale. 

Herve and his sister, left orphans from their earliest 
age, had been bequeathed to the guardianship of the 
Marquis de Kergant, an old friend of the Count de 
Pelven, their father. The marquis had acquitted 
himself with scrupulous fidelity of the office which he 
had undertaken at the foot of a dying friend's bed. 
The two sorrowing children had found a parental 
home at the hearth of the loyal gentleman ; and in the 
society of Bellah, his only daughter, they had shared 
with her all the advantages of a most careful educa- 
tion. At sixteen, Herve was sent to a college in 
Paris, which he only left to enter the military school 
at Brienne. At the close of every summer the young 
man came to pass a few weeks at the Chateau de 
Kergant; but although ho always brought with him the 

]$ 



] 8 BELLAH ; 

same grateful veneration for his guardian, and the same 
tender affection for his sister and her charming friend, 
who received him with equal joy, he had nevertheless 
found certain new ideas gradually superceding the 
principles which had been instilled into him during 
childhood. The marquis recalled his ward from Paris 
the clay on which he learned the fatal termination of 
the flight of Louis XVI. to Varennes, foreseeing the 
desperate efforts by which the Breton nobility were 
doomed to prove their devotion to their threatened 
religion. Herve obeyed, and returned to Kergant. 
He lived there for several months in cruel anguish of 
mind, distracted between the affections so dear to his 
heart, and the settled convictions of his under- 
standing. 

At last, he formed his resolution, and secretly re- 
turned to Paris. A short time afterwards, M. de 
Kergant was informed, in a respectful letter, that the 
son of the Count do Pelven was serving as a volunteer 
amongst the soldiers of the Republic. From that day, 
though Mademoiselle de Pelven could perceive an in- 
crease of attention in her guardian's conduct towards 
herself, she never dared to mention her brother's 
name before him, preferring apparent forgetfulness to 
bitter reflections on his conduct. The other inhabi- 
tants of the chateau maintained the same strict reserve, 
and thus all alike expressed their abhorrence of the 
part Herve had eboscn, though this feeling was differ- 
ently coloured by the different ideas and character of 
each individual. 

The marquis looked upon the son of his old friend 
as a renegade and a felon, who, as a traitor both to his 
God and to his king, deserved pardon neither in this 
world nor in the next. In the narrow-minded and fana- 
tical views of Madame do Kergant,- her brother's for- 
mer ward appeared under the most astonishing forms. 
She saw him brandishing a pike crowned by a bloody 
head; she saw him clothed in a frightful carmagnole, 



A TALE OP LA VENDEE. 19 

and dancing, without any regard to time, violent Ga 
Iras under lamp-posts decorated with pendant aris- 
tocrat*. 

To young Bellah, Herve appeared as a man born 
with the noblest qualities, hut deceived until he was 
betrayed to crime, and the victim of an unaccountable 
madness. She felt so deep a horror for such a deser- 
tion of all her domestic altars, that from that moment 
the proud girl dared not, or would not, mingle the 
traitor's name even with her most secret aspirations, 
though it might still perhaps have been found written 
in the silent recesses of her heart. 

Herve de Pelven, his musket on his shoulder, joined 
the army of the Moselle, just as General Hoche had 
assumed the command. 

Herve 's conduct in a skirmish won for him almost 
immediately the rank of lieutenant. Afterwards, 
during the attack upon the lines of Wissembourg, when 
his battalion was falling back in disorder before the 
formidable artillery of an Austrian redoubt, he sprang 
alone upon the fascines, with a tri-coloured ensign in 
his hand, and remained there for a minute unhurt, ex- 
posed to the enemy's fire — a miracle of audacity and 
good fortune. The republicans, electrified and brought 
back to their duty by his example, found him almost 
expiring, surrounded by the corpses of the enemy. 
The general-in-chief, who witnessed this deed of arms, 
desired that the young man should command the 
battalion which he had saved and rendered illustrious; 
but, before Herve had risen from the bed of suffering 
to which his wounds confined him, General Hoche, 
betrayed for the first time by fortune, had passed 
from his victorious camp to the prisons of the Com- 
mittee of Public Safety. Herve lost more than a 
patron! The touching attentions and the affectionate 
kindness which Hoche had already shown him, seemed 
better suited to the similarity of their age, than to the 
differences of their rank, and already gave him the 



20 bellah; 

right to regret as a friend the chief of whom he 
had been deprived. 

It was at this period that Pelven learned, by a letter 
dated from London, that his sister Andree, Made- 
moiselle Bellah de Kergant, and the canoness, had 
emigrated to England, by order, and through the care, 
of the marquis. As for the marquis himself, Andree's 
letter did not mention him. This silence was pain- 
fully explained to Herve by his seeing M. de Ker- 
gant' s name shortly afterwards among those of the 
royalist chiefs who created such a formidable oppo- 
sition in the -<vest to our armies on the frontier. 
From this time, the young officer received letters from 
his sister at brief intervals. The mystery of this 
correspondence, which could be carried on only by 
underhand means, shook the confidence which the 
converted patrician had at first acquired for himself 
in the republican army; and in spite of the high 
military qualities which he continued to display, the 
half suspicion which thus attached to him sufficed to 
keep him in that rank to which his first few steps 
hud raised him, and which at this period of rapid 
progress, as of sudden reverses, must have appeared 
hard to a young man of merit and courage. 

The uneasiness of this doubtful position put the 
finishing shade to Herve's character. He had for 
some time past felt himself oppressed by the most 
deep-seated melancholy. The fever of enthusiasm 
which had both inspired and sustained him in his 
generous resolution, had calmed down when once the 
sacrifice had been made; for nature, while she has 
permitted the chords of the human heart to be strained 
to the highest pitch of enthusiasm, has limited the 
duration of this effort, which by being prolonged would 
rapidly extinguish life. To Herve there now remained 
only the calm support of an exalted and firm convic- 
tion; enough to prevent him from repenting the step 
he had taken, but no!- sufficient to make him happy. 



A TALE OF LA VENDEE. 21 

To few is it given to find happiness in the exercise of 
the intellect and in the acquirement of knowledge alone. 
The greater number, too weak, perhaps, to maintain 
at all times the high ground to which they have at- 
tained, seek a refuge, and acquire fresh strength, from 
consolations of a softer nature ; and gifted, also, it may 
be, with a more exquisite organization than that of 
others, they unite to their manly and lofty aspirations 
more tenderness of feeling, which in its turn demands 
to be satisfied. 

Herve scarcely understood the full extent of the 
sacrifice he had made till it was completed. Then, 
and then only, his feelings, freed from their feverish 
state of irresolution, appeared before him in their full 
force, and he discovered, from the inflexible fidelity 
of his memory, that Mademoiselle de Kergant had 
as if in retribution left behind her an impression not 
to be effaced. But even had Herve been so little ac- 
quainted with the character of Bellah as to retain any 
doubt as to the manner in which she would look upon 
his conduct, Andree's letters would have sufficiently en- 
lightened him. Not only did Mademoiselle de Kergant 
never add to her friend's letters one word of civility to 
the man who had been so long to her as a brother, but 
it was evident besides that Andree was forbidden, by 
the most inflexible prohibitions, even to touch upon 
the subject. Herve was certain of this from the con- 
ciseness of the never-varying postscript: "Bellah 
is well." Once only did Andree dare to exceed the 
limits of this cruel bulletin, and at the end of the 
usual formida, "Bellah is well," Herve was aston- 
ished to read these words: "She is as lovely as a 
saint." It is impossible to say why this little addi- 
tion, so natural from a woman, irritated Herve to 
such a degree that he began to think that the violent 
feeling which the recollection of Mademoiselle de Ker- 
gant excited in his heart, must be hatred, not love. 

The 9th of Thermidor, however, restored General 



22 BELLAH ; 

Hoclie to his country, and lie was appointed shortly after- 
wards to the command of the army of Brest, and re- 
cruited his forces with several corps detached from that 
of the North. The 60th demi-brigade, in which Pelven 
was serving, was the first which Hoche demanded, and 
Herve thus re-entered his native country as a soldier. 
He found the young man whom we have made ac- 
quaintance with under the name of Francis, in high 
favour with Hoche, who, according to the gossip of the 
staff, had met the mother of this boy in prison, where 
she had recommended her child to him, before she 
herself went to that terrible tribunal from which there 
was no return. Whether it were merely from anxiety 
to fulfil the wish of a dying mother, or from some more 
tender feeling, it is certain that the general loved 
the young man tenderlj*. 

One winter's day, in the year 1794, as Hoclie was 
returning to his quarters with three battalions, he was 
attacked upon the banks of the Vilaine by Stofflet's 
" "Whites." From the top of a bank, where he had 
placed himself during the fight, ho beheld his young- 
aide-de-camp dragged oft" by five or six partisans almost 
from under his feet, when, just at that moment, a 
republican officer, his bridle in his teeth, dashed among 
the group of enemies who were carrying off the brave 
boy, and, lifting the prisoner to his saddle by the 
collar of his coat, lie brought back this living trophy 
to the foot of the mound, upon which the whole staff 
stood vehemently applauding. By this act of chival- 
rous prowess Herve added a feeling of lively grati- 
tude to the friendly interest which Hoche had 
formerly professed for him, and as for Francis, he 
conceived the most passionate and enthusiastic at- 
tachment for his preserver. 

A few weeks afterwards, the first pacification of 
La Vendee and Brittany was signed. Herve then 
received a letter from his sister, who begged him to 
obtain permission for herself and her companions in 



A TALK OP LA TKNDKE. 23 

emigration to return to France; she begged also that 
an escort of republican soldiers might be sent to protect 
them, till they reached Korgant, against the Chouans, 
who were inimical to the pacification, and who might 
wish to revenge themselves for the part the marquis 
had taken in bringing about this happy event. In spite 
of the slight amount of confidence which he placed in 
this imperfect peace, IToclio did not imagine that the 
presence of two or three women could render Brittany 
more dangerous to the Republic. By the events of the 
9th of Thermidor, besides, the Reign of Terror had 
given way to a more merciful administration; and 
moreover the Marquis de Kcrgant was among those 
royalist chiefs who had been amnestied; so that Hoche 
did not hesitate to grant this favour to a man to whom 
ho was personally a debtor, and in whose honour and 
probity he felt the utmost confidence. The reader is 
now acquainted with the motives which brought the 
detachment of republican grenadiers to the village of 
F , and to them we will now return. 

The English boat neared the shore, and, the tide 
being high, it glided into a little creek formed by a group 
of rocks at the extremity of the bay. Herve and Francis 
approached these rocks to assist in the disembarka- 
tion, while the soldiers, full of curiosity, stood a few 
paces behind them. Serjeant Bruidoux alone had re- 
mained at a distance from the spot, still stretched on his 
back, and watching the movements of a few gulls 
flying in the sky, testifying by his contemptuous atti- 
tude his indifference to the scene which threatened 
to give the lie to his prophetic assertions. When 
the boat was but a few yards from the shore, the 
rowers stopped suddenly, and at the same moment 
the young midshipman who commanded the party 
sprang aft, and, politely bowing — 

" Sir," said he, while Herve touched his cap in 
reply to his salute, ' ' if you are the person I presume 
you to be, you will not take it ill if I demand your 



24 bell AH; 

credentials before I deliver into your hands the pre- 
cious charge intrusted to me." 

"But sir," interrupted a woman's voice from the 
boat, " I assure you it is my brother!" 

Herve waved his hand to the pretty speaker, then 
taking a paper out of his pocket, he placed it on 
the point of his sabre, and presented it to the mid- 
shipman, who read the commission in a loud voice as 
follows: — 

' ' By virtue of the powers with which the National 
Convention has invested me, I authorise the citoyennes, 
Eleanor Kergant, formerly canoness, Bellah Kergant, 
and Andree Pelven, accompanied by the citoyennes 
Alix Kado and Macgregor, their servants, to return 
and reside freely in the territories of the Republic. 

" Signed, Hociie." 

After having finished reading this document, during 
which time Madame Eleanor de Kergant thought 
proper to shrug her shoulders repeatedly, the mid- 
shipman delivered the paper to the old lady, and the 
boat touched the rocks. Eluding Hcrvc's eagerness, 
the canoness sprang upon the shore, and making him 
a curtsey, a la Pompadour, immediately turned round 
and offered her hand in turn to each of her compa- 
nions in exile. Whether it were by chance, or by a 
piece of premeditated cruelty on the part of Madame 
de Kergant, Andree was the last who landed. 

" Dearest brother," cried she, springing into 
TIerve's arms, and kissing away the tears which were 
coursing down his burning cheeks, " J see you once 
more and exactly the same as when I parted from you. 
Is it not extraordinary, Bellah? I was afraid that his 
hair would have turned quite grey!" 

"But, dear child," said Herve, laughing, "re- 
member that it is not more than two years since we 
parted." 



A TALE of la vesdkk. 



" Not more!" answered the young girl; "why I 
think two years is an age!" 

"Much too long, certainly, hut not long enough, 
my clear Andree, to reduce a man to a state of de- 
crepitude." 

"Well, it is all the hetter as it is, but still I 
expected to find it so," said Andree, pouting; then 
laughing again, she embraced her brother, and leaning 
on his arm, accompanied him from the beach to the 
village. 

The canoness had already proceeded forward with 
Bellah, so as to prevent the republican officer from 
nourishing even a hope of success in any polite 
offer of assistance which he might have had the bold- 
ness to make to her. 

A few yards off the Breton guide was seated on 
the edge of a boat, holding his daughter's hand in 
his, and talking to her gravely in the language of 
his ancestors. Alix's somewhat Jewish style of 
beauty acquired a peculiar charm from the elegance 
of her national costume. The perfect dignity of her 
face, which was lighted up by large black eyes, was 
admirably relieved by her Breton cap, the high 
white wings of which were united at the top of her 
head. There was nothing in Alix's attitude or 
style of •walking which betrayed that embarrassment 
which so often renders the movements of women of 
an inferior class awkward or affected. 

Ilerve could not help observing how completely 
the most humble of his childish companions had kept 
her promise of youthful loveliness; but her beauty 
sank into the shade when compared with that of Bellah, 
which, though cast in a similar mould, had been sof- 
tened and refined by the cultivation of the understand- 
ing. There was the same dignity, with less of the wild 
perfume of nature, if one may so speak, and more 
exquisite elegance of form. Bellah seemed to be 
the second copy of a divine work, finished with more 



2G eellaii; 

care in the details than the first, and gaining in per- 
fection what it might have lost in original force. 

While Colonel Herve was ascending the heach, 
listening with delight to the voice of his young sister — 
sweet echo of hy-gone years — the aide-de-camp walked 
slowly away, his heart oppressed with that melancholy 
feeling with which a meeting of dear friends always 
inspires us, when we have no claim to share in the 
happiness it bestows. 



A TAr.T, or LA VIMDEE. 



CHAPTER II. 



; Ah ! sir, it is a ghost. T am sure of it by its walk." 

Molibub. — Festin de Pieere. 



At the colonel's command, the soldiers soon resumed 
their arms and fell into their ranks, and the women 
mounted the horses prepared for them, and took their 
places in the centre of the detachment, which then 
left the village, preceded hy the forester Kado. In 
order as much as possible to escape remark, Herve, 
in obedience to the orders of the general, avoided 
passing through inhabited places; and the little com- 
pany, following in the steps of their gigantic guide, 
was soon winding among bye— paths faintly traced out 
across marshy plains, or arid heaths. Herve, to his 
regret, was obliged to leave his sister's side, because 
the canoness had addressed a question to her which 
she was compelled to answer; and he therefore rode 
forward to the young aide-de-camp, who was at the 
head of the cavalcade. 

"Well! Francis," said he, "was my presentiment 
a mistaken one \vith respect to this interview?'' 

"Most decidedly so, colonel; unless you place an 
ecpial value on the absurdity of a frigid old woman, 
and the overflowing tenderness of that angel your 
sister." 

"No! that I certainly do not; but now that you 
have seen Mademoiselle de Kergant, Francis, what 
do you think of her?" 

"She is good-looking, Colonel Herve." 

" Really ! good-looking, Lieutenant Francis ? You 
are moderate in your expressions of praise. And 



28 BELLA.H; 

the reception she gave me, are you so kind as to call 
that good, too?" 

"Neither good nor anything else, for she gave you 
none at all, that I coidd see; but your sister, Pelven! 
your charming sister — " 

"My charming sister," returned Herve, with a 
little ill-humour, "has no need to he defended, that I 
know of, inasmuch as she is not attacked." 

Francis gave no answer to this ebullition, and 
looked at Herve with an expression of pain and sur- 
prise, which immediately subdued the vexation of the 
young man. 

"But why the deuce!" said he, laughing, "must 
you talk to me about Andree, when I was speaking 
to you of Bellah. But come now, really my dear 
fellow, confess that the style of Mademoiselle de 
Kergant's beauty may almost be called terrible." 

"Terrible is the word," said Francis. "A few 
minutes ago I picked up her riding whip. She 
thanked me, fixing her eyes on mine with such a 
resolute air, that I trembled to the soles of my feet. 
I had intended making her a polite speech, but I 
could only utter a kind of low mumbling, and I con- 
fess to you that I owe her a grudge. She is ex- 
tremely beautiful certainly, but her beauty is more 
wonderful than charming. What a difference, my 
dear Pelven, there is now — •" 

"Between her and the canoness," said Herve, 
sharply: "certainly the difference is considerable; 
I admire your discrimination greatly." 

While they were talking, the two young men had 
ridden on a little in advance of the others, who at 
this moment were mounting the steep slope of a hill. 
The landscape consisted of a succession of bare downs, 
between which ran streams murmuring over beds of 
broken rocks; whilst the line of the soldiers, as they 
followed the windings of the paths, the graceful ap- 
pearance of the female cavalcade, their fluttering veils, 



A TALE OF LA VENDEE. 29 

their white plumes, which floated in the wind — all this 
life, movement, and colour, in so wild a spot — formed a 
picturesque scene, which did not escape the observa- 
tion of the two officers. 

"Look down there, Pelven," cried Francis; "could 
you not imagine yourself to be some enchanter carrying 
off a whole bevy of princesses prisoners, not forget- 
ting the queen dowager at their head?" 

"I should rather imagine myself to be an en- 
chanted wight than an enchanter," answered Herve. 
"I must tell you, however, Francis, that I do not 
quite like this wild country we are marching through. 
I have but little confidence in our guide. He is, 
after his fashion, a very honest man, but as great 
a royalist as the royal tiger of Bengal himself. I 
beg you will watch him. Look ! what is he doing 
down there, for instance, I should like to know?" 

The forester was then walking along the edge of a 
bank which descended precipitously on his right, 
and was stopping, from time to time, and kicking 
down bits of rock into the dark abyss below. 

"Well," said Francis, "it appears to me that 
citizen Kado is only diverting himself after a most 
innocent fashion." 

"It is the very innocence of the amusement that 
seems suspicious to me," returned Herve; "a man 
with such a grave disposition and appearance does not 
amuse himself with such childish games for nothing. 
See, he is listening now; he is bending down his head 
to the brink of the precipice." 

"I suppose he is listening to the sound of the 
stones leaping from rock to rock. I tell you this 
worthy savage has a taste for simple pleasures." 

"Hush!" interrupted Herve, touching the young 
lieutenant's arm; "did you not hear?" 

"Hear? what?" 

"That whistle; and I saw the guide exchange 
u'lances with the canoness." 



30 bellah; 

"Oh, yes! I heard something like a whistle, but 
still more like the whistling of the wind through the 
heather. As for the intercepted look between the 
eanoness and the savage, I lost that, and I am sorry 
for it. But really, colonel, I. cannot understand your 
apprehensions. Are not we sufficiently protected by 
your sister's presence? Can you for a moment 
imagine that she could have anything to do with a 
plot of which her own brother . must fall the first 
victim?" 

'• She possibly knows nothing of it." 

"Besides, however carefully I examine the eano- 
ness s powdered head, though I can plainly see 
that it resembles the sign over an umbrella-maker's 
shop after a snow storm, yet I cannot believe that 
any barbarous ideas could take their origin there." 

"The old lady is very cunning, lieutenant; never- 
theless, whatever resemblance you may find for her 
head, I have no doubt but that she was an active 
politician in England. She may very possibly have 
had direct communication with Pitt." 

"In that case I pity Pitt," returned Francis. 

"That may be: but amongst the ideas which might 
have been hatched in the eanoness's brain, what do 
you say to such a one as this: suppose the escort of 
Cob me] Ilerve were drawn into an ambush, and at 
tlic same time the said colonel's life were spared? A 
suspicion of his being an accomplice would attach it- 
self to liim, which would compromise him irrecoverably 
in the eyes of the Republic, and, in such a case, 
lie would lie compelled to join the Holy Cause 
whether he would or not. Eh?" 

''Hum!" said Francis, "this is specious; but they 
could not have known Colonel Herve if they believed 
such a thing possible." 

"Passion might blind them to such an extent as to 
make them do me this injustice. However, these 
arc foolish thoughts; I only wished to remind you 



A TALK OF LA VENDEE. 



tliat we are, after all, in an enemy's country, and 
that it is better to keep one's eyes open." 

"Be satisfied, colonel, I will keep my eye upon 
the forester, the queen mother, and even upon — •'' 

"My charming sister?" asked Herve, softly. 

"No: M. do Pelven, no! I would sooner suspect 
innocence itself. I meant to speak of that beautiful 
wild flower, the forester's daughter." 

Andree now put an end to the young men's conver- 
sation, by approaching her brother. It was mid-day: 
the cavalcade was following the windings of a path, 
on each side of which lay a plain of the most desolate 
aspect, extending farther than the eye coidd reach. A 
few clumps of tall broom, as high as a man, were the 
only objects which now and then gave an appearance 
of vegetation to this Breton desert ; and here and 
there ridges of granite, covered with black lichen, 
broke the monotony of the arid soil. In the dis- 
tance, five or six huts were visible towards the centre 
of the vast plain ; but these tokens of the presence of 
human beings had nothing re-assuring in them to 
the traveller's eye; they wore a gloomy, miserable 
appearance, Avell calculated to add a feeling of alarm 
to that of desolation. 

The cavalcade made a halt of half an hour in this 
melancholy hamlet. Before the door of the cabin 
which was nearest to the road, a young man, clothed 
in rags, with a haggard eye and withered features, 
was sitting upon a stool chafing his hands by turns 
in the sunshine, with a look of foolish pleasure. 

" That is my poor heaven-smitten boy," said an 
old woman, who had come out of the cabin upon 
seeing Herve approach him with a look of interest. 
Herve put a piece of silver into the hand of the un- 
fortunate mother, and left this melancholy spectacle; 
but, turning suddenly round a few minutes afterwards, 
he was surprised to see the "poor boy" engaged in an 
animated conversation with the forester, lie was 



stretching out his arm towards the north, and spoke 
with extreme volubility; then perceiving that Herve's 
looks were fixed upon him, he at once resumed his 
idiotic air. "What a misfortune; is it not, sir?" 
said Kado, coming up to the young colonel. Herve 
made no answer, hut being rather suspicious of such 
an intelligent idiot, took care that he should have 
no further opportunity of communication with the 
guide. 

After a short delay the march was resumed, and 
the day glided past without any fresh incident occur- 
ring to awaken Pelven's suspicions. The sun was 
near its decline, and Francis, feeling the peculiar 
charm of this period of day, was in the highest 
spirits. He was composing aloud, as he rode along, 
a sort of ballad in the chivalric style, in which each 
of the personages of the expedition had a part. 
Herve could not help smiling at the epic improvisa- 
tion of his young friend, and at the heroic, and at 
the same time, burlesque character, under which he 
himself figured in it. 

Stopping all at once, as he came to the name of 
the " Daughter of the Macgregors," as he called 
the Scotch waiting-woman — " Do vou know," said 
he, " that she seems to me to bo the most dis- 
creet waiting-woman, and the most closely-veiled 
Scotch- woman, that I ever beheld? I am sorry to 
tell you, colonel, that I do not discover in her the 
smallest resemblance to the red-haired caricature 
which you palmed upon me as her portrait ! ' ' 

' ' I told you, Francis, that I had never seen her, 
and I may add, that if she continues to travel with 
the same precautions as hitherto, I most probably 
never shall see her." 

" I have been more fortunate," said Francis; " a 
gust of wind allowed me to perceive a graceful, oval- 
shaped face, and a double range of pearly teeth of 
the most perfect colour. As for her figure and the 



A TALE OF LA VENDEE. 33 

beauty of her hands, you can see them yourself as 
well as I can." 

' • It seems to me, sir knight, ' ' said Iierve, laugh- 
ing-, " that this matter concerns our squires more 
than ourselves." 

Serjeant Bruidoux, who might he taken for the 
principal squire of the expedition, was at that 
moment, as if to justify his colonel's words, whiling 
away the fatigues of the march by going to the 
bottom of the subject thus lightly touched upon by 
his superiors. 

" There are," said Bruidoux, who loved to harangue 
upon every subject, whether he knew anything about 
it or not, " there are women of all sorts. There are 
some who attract the eye by their plumpness, there 
are others made like a cavalry sabre. Some are 
brown and some are fair. But to return to this 
Scotch citoyenne of whom we were speaking, I must 
tell you, that if I did not owe fidelity to a certain 
countrywoman of mine, whose name is inscribed on 
my left arm, I should have already offered my hand 
and heart to the said citoyenne, and " 

But here Bruidoux was suddenly interrupted by 
repeated exclamations from all parts of the column. 
It was now night, but the sky was very clear. They 
had reached the top of a steep hill, and were begin- 
ning to descend the other side, while the bottom of the 
narrow valley which lay beneath their feet was half 
concealed by the shades of night, and half by the veil 
of white fog which was rising from the marsh. About 
half a league farther on, rising through the mist, was 
visible the undefined summit of a knoll, upon the top 
O- which the black and dilapidated mass of a feudal 
;astle rose into view clear against the sky. Two 
pointed windows broke the line of the ruined wall in 
front, and through them streamed the pale light of 
the moon, whose disc was still invisible, presenting 
a mysterious and ghastly appearance. At this sight 

c 



31 bellah; 

Herve and Francis were the first to halt. The 
women, with a vague feeling of terror, drew close 
to each other, and approached the two officers. 

"Is not that, mademoiselle," said Herve, turning 
to the Scotch girl, who had at length raised her veil, 
" is not that a scene such as might grace your own 
country ? ' ' 

The young girl bowed without answering. 

"Dear brother," said Andree, "are we really to 
pass the night in that dreadful place which is frown- 
ing down upon us ? " 

" You know, dear Andree," said Herve, " that I 
have had nothing to do with the planning of your 
journey; you must blame honest Kado, not me, if 
your bed-chamber does not please you." 

" I assure you I shall die with fright, then," said 
Andree. 

"I hope," said the canoness, in the pointed and 
solemn manner which distinguished her mode of 
speech — " I hope that Mademoiselle de Pelven will 
soon be reconciled to this chateau, when she learns 
that it was built by her brave ancestors, and that it 
is the oldest patrimony of her family." 

" Thank you, madam," cried Andree, " I am 
truly obliged to you ; this was the only thing wanting 
to complete my satisfaction. My brave ancestors ? 
Well, then, the descendant of my brave ancestors is 
a coward: that is the truth. I have all their portraits 
by heart, and I am certain I shall see them passing 
through my room all night long in solemn procession, 
from Oliver with the large feet, to Geoffry Twist- 
beard." 

"And even if you were to see them, my dear," 
said a voice, whose singularly sweet and grave modu- 
lations made Herve's heart beat fast, " what need 
you fear? You are their loyal descendant, you have 
preserved the honour of their name and kept the faith 
which they believed. It is not you, Andree, that 



A TALE OP LA VENDEE. 3.) 

should fear to look upon the face of those who knew 
how to live and die for God and for their king." 

The young republican colonel felt the blood rush 
to his face. " If I am at all acquainted with the 
history of my family," said he, in a voice that 
betrayed no little emotion, "more than one among 
those of whom Mademoiselle de Kergant speaks, fell 
fighting for his country's liberties, and in arms 
against his king. In those days a Breton's country 
was Brittany alone, now it is France." 

After saying these words, Herve urged his horse 
along the broken path which, with many turns, led 
down the side of the hill. Francis, after having 
commanded the detachment to resume its march, 
rejoined his friend. "You are right, colonel," said 
he, "that is no ordinary woman; her voice has a 
kind of penetrating melody which astonishes one. I 
admire you for being able to answer her as you did. 
As for me, I should have fairly run off." 

"She hates me," muttered Pelven, "she hates 
me, and what is worse, she despises me." 

" That she does not love you, Colonel Herve, is 
possible, though the reverse also may be the truth, 
but — . Well ! what on earth is our guide about ? 
Look at him making signs of the cross with both 
hands!" 

"Some Breton superstition!" said Herve; and, on 
approaching the guide, he fancied he heard him 
praying in a low voice, and saw that he was kissing 
with fervour the beads of an enormous rosary. As- 
tonished at this sudden fit of devotion, the young 
man laid his hand gently on the guide's shoulder, 
who started. 

"Your pardon, my friend," said Pelven; "but 
this road is a difficult one, and we have need of all 
your watchfulness. The moment is ill-tirned for you 
thus to be absorbed in prayer." 

' ' It does not become the son of those who sleep 



yonder," answered the Breton gravely, stretching out 
his hand towards the ruined castle, "to say that it 
is wrong to pray when one is about to enter the 
Valley of the Groac'h." 

" You know, Kado, that I have never lived in this 
part of the country; I am perfectly ignorant of the 
mysteries of this valley, whose very name I now 
hear for the first time." 

" Those must be bad times, my master," said the 
forester, with solemn emphasis, " when the bird loses 
its way in that thicket where its parents sang over its 
nest." 

"Kado," interrupted Her ve, with some severity, 
"we were friends in former days; do not force me to 
forget it now. I ask you whether there is any 
peculiar danger in this valley, that you think fit to 
enter it in this way?" 

" This valley is haunted," said Kado, lowering his 
voice, and again kissing his chaplet. 

" Why did you not take another road, then? You 
have only yourself to blame as the cause of these 
ridiculous fears." 

"I have no fear," answered the Breton: "I 
have crossed many a haunted valley alone, and at 
night, and I have never feared. My conscience is 
between them and me. The rocks never rise and 
dance before him whose conscience is at ease. Let 
me pray, M. Herve, for I am not praying for 
myself." 

" And for what offender are you praying then, 
Master Kado?" 

This question was put in an angry and meaning 
tone, to which the guide seemed indifferent, for he 
answered immediately, and with perfect calmness, 
though his voice was softened by a shade of sorrow: — 

" I was praying, my master, for those who must 
have forgotten to pray for themselves, when they 
learned to threaten those of their own country who 



A TALE 01? LA VENDEE. 37 

had cradled them in their arms when they were little 
children." 

This appeal made to his tenderest recollections 
by a voice formerly dear to him, suddenly melted the 
young man's pride. By a singular caprice of the 
human mind, he felt the simple sentence of this 
peasant, with whose rude straightforward understand- 
ing he was well acquainted, more than the anathema 
which had fallen from the lips of Bcllah. He could 
not resist a wish to overcome those prejudices by the 
force of which this honest man had found him guilty. 

''You are right, my dear Kado," he returned; 
" they are unhappy times in which the children of 
the same land, and the same house, become enemies 
to each other. But who is to blame? You, who have 
an upright mind and who know me, can you believe 
that I would have renounced all my dearest affections, 
had I not been compelled by some commanding duty 
which heaven itself had made binding upon me?" 

" There can be no new duties," answered Kado, 
in a sententious tone ; ' ' what was right for my father 
to do, is right for me. Truth is unchangeable." 

" And yet," said Herve, " I have heard you your- 
self relate that in times long, long gone by, the 
people of this country adored rocks and stones as if 
they were pagans." 

" That is trite, my master." 

" Well then, that was truth to them; and when the 
religion of the Cross was preached, the first who re- 
nounced these false gods to follow the new law were 
also called faithless and traitors. The same names 
were given to them that you now give to me, and they 
were told, what you tell me, that truth is unchange- 
able. But she had changed nevertheless." 

" The law in the gospel is good," said the Breton, 
shaking his head; "it does not command men to 
rob or slay their brethren." 

" It orders them," returned Herve with vehemence, 



38 bellah; 

" to treat each other as if they were children of one 
race, creatures formed of the same clay; and it is 
because there are found sinful men who have for- 
gotten this law, who believe that they are of a nature 
superior to their brethren, and who have despised and 
oppressed them, that the cause of truth and justice 
is now with those who fight against such tyrants." 

" If I understand you rightly, my master," said 
the forester, who had listened with great attention to 
the words of the young officer, "these men are those 
whom we call lords and gentlemen; but all your fathers 
were lords. Do you say then that all your ancestors 
were criminals?" 

" My ancestors, my old friend, deemed themselves 
right in acting as they did. The times in which we 
live are enlightened by a knowledge that was denied 
to them. I should have been the guilty one if, for 
my own private interest, I had remained attached to 
the opinions of my fathers, when my conscience had 
convinced me of the error of those opinions. They 
did their duty: I do mine." 

"These are ideas," said Kado, " which I never 
thought of. ' ' Then he reflected for a moment before 
continuing: — " I am no scholar, M. Ilerve, as you 
know, and I have much difficulty even in signing my 
name; but I have been in the habit of pondering much 
upon what I hear, except only upon religious subjects, 
which belong to a higher power. Well, my master, 
people say that you wish there should be no more 
great or little, rich or poor, but that everybody should 
be equal. Thereupon, I must tell you, that this can 
never be. God has made men, some weak and some 
strong, some clever and some stupid, some industrious 
and some idle; you may destroy the creature, but 
you cannot alter the will of God." 

" You may add to that, my good old Kado, that 
we should be miserable fools if we nourished such fan- 
cies. Far from trying to change what God has made, 



A TALE OP LA VENDEE. 39 

wo try, as much as it is possible for men, to regulate 
our government by his. Does religion tell you, 
Kado, that God condemns any before they are born? 
.Never, I am certain! He places man upon the earth 
with free will to act well or ill, and he waits, before 
judging him, till his life is closed. Well, we desire 
that no man should be condemned to despair from the 
mere accident of his birth, but that every one should 
be able freely to use the gifts which he has received 
from God, so that by his own acts alone he may de- 
serve happiness or misery. Our republic declares 
that all her children have an equal right to honour 
her and to serve her by becoming honourable them- 
selves; for her first law is, that he who sows should 
reap." 

" These things appear right," said the Breton, in 
a thoughtful voice. " Certainly there is much both 
good and beautiful in all this. They did not tell it us 
like that. I thank you heartily that you have talked 
upon this subjectwith me. I have known youfrom your 
childhood, M. Herve; I taught you to fire your first 
shot ; you were always a brave chip of a gentleman. 
Swallows only depart when winter is coming on. It 
makes me glad to know that you had such reasons 
for leaving us. My heart will not be so heavy when 
I think of you in future." 

Kado walked on a few steps in silence, with his 
head bent; then he added, sorrowfully — 

" I am too old; but if I were younger, I should like 
to think about it all, for there is much that is good 
and beautiful in what you say ; but at my age, do you 
see, my master, if I were to try to take out of my heart 
all the things and people which I have kept at its core 
for so long a time, I might perhaps find better to put 
in their places, but I feel that it would kill me to try. 
Do not let us talk any more about it, I entreat you." 

" Give me your hand Kado," said Herve, warmly 
pressing the hand trembling with emotion which the 



40 BELLAII ; 

old forester immediately gave him with delighted 
surprise. 

At this moment the young aide-de-camp joined the 
speakers. 

" What were you telling me, Kado," Herve re- 
sumed, " ahout this Valley of the Groac'h, as you 
call it?" 

" I said it was haunted, my master." 

" Haunted ! what does that mean, colonel V asked 
Francis. 

" It means, my dear lieutenant, that Old Nick, 
otherwise called the Devil, holds a royal court in this 
valley, and that you may probahly see him capering 
ahout in the moonshine with the groac'h, which means 
the fairies, and with the korandons, who are tiny 
little citizens, sorcerers by trade !" 

"Good!" returned Francis, laughing; "we shall 
have a good laugh then. I am truly enchanted." 

A gesture and exclamation from the forester, who 
had suddenly stopped, silenced the young man. The 
little cavalcade had accomplished about two-thirds of 
the descent, and was slowly following the winding 
and precipitous path, which had degenerated into a 
perfect staircase of rocks. In spite of their confi- 
dence in their steeds, which, like all the horses of 
that mountainous country, were as sure-footed as the 
mules of the Spanish sierras, the women and even the 
soldiers, devoting all their attention to the difficulties 
of the road, travelled on in perfect silence, so that the 
guide's exclamation, and the conversation which fol- 
lowed, was heard and commented on even by the rear- 
most files of the column. 

Kado had stopped, shading his eyes with his hand, 
and stretching out his head in the attitude of a man 
who seeks to confirm the truth of some important event. 

" What is the matter?" asked Herve, in a low 
voice." 

' ' I was deceived, ' ' answered Kado, ' ' and I thank 



A TALE OP LA VENDEE. 41 

heaven that I was, for although I have never seen 
anything of the sort with my own eyes — ' ' He again 
stopped abruptly, and trembling in every limb, as if 
he were agitated with the most violent fear. " No! 
no! I was not deceived: it is them! Hush, my 
master ! ' ' 

Pelven and the whole party listened, and soon 
heard distinctly the noise of hollow and regular blows, 
resembling the sound which would be made by a hammer 
falling upon a wooden anvil. The blows ceased at in- 
tervals, and then began again with the same strength. 
Similar noises were heard at the same time rising 
from different parts of the valley. 

" What the deuce sort of noise is that?" asked 
Francis. " It is like women beating linen!" 

" Yes," answered the forester, in a grave and 
melancholy voice, ' ' they are washing the clothes of 
the departed;" and he uncovered his head, raised his 
eyes to heaven, and began to pray in a low voice. 
Herve was painfully embarrassed; he felt the neces- 
sity of putting an end to this scene, which might have 
a contagious effect upon the women's minds, and even 
upon the understanding of some of his soldiers ; but he 
could not bear to take any violent measures against 
the man with whom he had just renewed his former 
friendship. In the midst of his irresolution, he felt 
his arm lightly pressed. 

" Dear brother," whispered Andree's caressing 
voice, ' ' you will scold me, I know, but I must tell 
you that I am dreadfully nervous. They must be 
the lavandiires de la nuit. Don't you think so?" 

"Hush! hush, you little fool!" answered Herve, 
laughing: then bending down to the forester's ear, 
" my good Kado," said he, in a low voice, " move 
on, I entreat you. Do not terrify my sister." 

Kado looked at the young man for a moment, 
hesitatingly, and drew a long sigh, after which he 
walked on, praying with the rosary in his fingers. 



42 BELLAH ; 

Herve then turned to his soldiers : " My good fel- 
lows," cried he, gaily, " it appears that there are 
some ci-devant washerwomen down there ; but you 
know the republic declares there is nothing of the 
kind now; therefore, forward!" 

" Colonel," answered Bruidoux, " here's Colibri, 
who will undertake to give them some work with his 
six dozen pairs of silk stockings." 

Re-assured as to the spirit of his men, by the 
laughter with which the Serjeant's pleasantry was 
received, Colonel Herve resumed his place near 
Francis with more tranquillity. However, as they 
came nearer to the foot of the hill, the extraordi- 
nary sounds which proceeded from the deserted val- 
ley became much more distinct, resembling exactly 
the peculiar noise of a beetle on wet linen, and at 
times the harsher sound of the wood striking against 
a stone. 

"May I ask you, colonel, " said Francis, "what 
exact species of animal, now, may be termed a 
lavandiere in art magic?" 

" The lavandieres, lieutenant, are diabolical wo- 
men, who at midnight make a grand washing of all the 
shrouds of their friends. It is said that they beg 
the passers-by to assist them in wringing out the 
linen; and in that case, the only possible safety lies in 
carefully twisting on the same side as the ladies 
themselves do, for if one were to twist the contrary 
way ho would be inevitably crushed to pieces." 

"Aha!" cried Francis, "much obliged for your 
warning, colonel. I should like to know, now, to 
what cause you attribute the ridiculous noise which 
strikes on our ear ; for although the fog is rising, and 
the moon shining full upon the valley, I really see no 
appearance of any habitation ?" 

" True ; but there is a portion of the valley which 
we cannot see from this, by reason of this rock 
which we are rounding. A shepherd-boy, strik- 



A TALE OP LA VENDEE. 43 

ing with a stick upon those stones, would be sufficient 
to make such a noise." 

" Upon my word, I can scarcely think so colonel, 
unless you imagine at least a dozen shepherd-boys at 
work, with a dozen very thick sticks." 

" Might there not be a waterfall round the point?" 

' ' No waterfall ever made such a noise as this. It 
is very strange after all. Don't you think there is a 
strong smell of brimstone about, Pelven?" 

" Our ears are very apt to deceive us at night," 
said Herve, answering his own thoughts. " These 
blows are really extraordinary. Do you believe in 
spirits, Francis ?" 

" I am beginning to do so a little, colonel. Really, 
it is quite absurd, but I am getting rather nervous?" 

" Hush! keep it to yourself then, at least, my boy. 
But, to tell the truth, I was beginning to get a little 
nervous too, had I not found out the riddle. This 
valley has an echo, which repeats the sound of the 
horses' feet upon the stones ; I have heard as distinct 
an echo twenty times before, and — " 

"On my life!" exclaimed Francis, " lavandieres 
or demons, there they are!" 

The two officers had rounded the point of the rock 
which till now had concealed a part of the valley from 
their sight. Herve directed his eyes towards the spot 
which Francis pointed out, and saw with amazement, at 
a distance of about a hundred yards, a group of women 
clothed in white, some on their knees before the pools 
of water, the others ajroearing to spread out the linen 
upon the tufts of marshy grass. A few stifled ex- 
clamations and confused murmurs acquainted Herve, 
at the same instant, that the women and the soldiers 
had also discovered this strange spectacle. 

" Hallo, Colibri ! " said Bruidoux, "now is the time 
to get your silk stockings out of your portmanteau." 

" Herve," cried Andree, throwing her arms round 
her brother, " in the name of heaven what is this ?" 



44 bellah; 

" They are Chouans, my dear. I was warned that 
I should find these gentry here. Stay here, and 
fear nothing." 

As he finished this speech, which was designed to 
calm his sister's superstitious terrors by suggesting 
apprehensions of some positive danger, Herve thought 
he saw the canoness make a sudden gesture of aston- 
ishment, and look at him with a penetrating glance. 
This glance revived all his half- forgotten suspicions: 
he bent down towards Francis, and said hastily, 
"See! the canoness shows no anxiety: it is some 
snare !" 

" Ah ! so much the better!" answered the latter, 
drawing a long breath. " Shall we charge them, 
colonel?" 

The two young men, turning round with some 
curiosity to look into the valley, saw that the lavan- 
dieres were continuing their work apparently with- 
out taking any notice of the republican detachment. 
The soldiers became a little unsteady. 

" This has lasted long enough," muttered Herve. 
" My lads," said he, aloud, " we will soon make 
them fold up their linen. Make ready! Ladies, 
and you too, Kado, get behind the rocks, I entreat 
you." The rattle of the ramrods in the barrels of 
the muskets was heard, and the two officers, having 
formed their men into a compact body, advanced on 
the damp soil of the valley. 

Asthe soldiers approached the nocturnal workwomen, 
whether it were an illusion produced by the moon's 
uncertain light, or arising from the peculiar disposition 
of their minds at that moment, they plainly per- 
ceived that the shape and stature of these unknown 
beings gradually increased to a size really super- 
natural. They were not more than forty paces from 
them when the strange group suddenly abandoned 
their work and commenced dancing an extraordinary 
round, accompanied by a kind of low incantation, like 



A ME OP LA VENDEE. 45 

the humming of bees in a hive. Herve commanded 
a halt. 

"Hallo! you there !" cried he ; " quivive?" Then, 
after a short silence, " I warn you, whatever you may 
be, that I will not expose a single one of my men in 
such a mad affair. Present, soldiers!" 

' ' Look out now for broken crowns ! " muttered 
Bruidoux. 

But the lavandieres continued their dance and 
mysterious chant, without heeding this appeal. 

"Fire!" cried Herve. 

As soon as the smoke had dispersed a little, and 
the soldiers could see the effect of their volley, a peal of 
laughter echoed through the ranks. All the actresses 
in this fantastic ballet, were seen stretched at full 
length and motionless upon the ground, not unlike so 
many white table-cloths exposed to the night-dew. 

" That will teach them,'' said Bruidoux, "not to 
dance unseasonable dances by moonlight." 

But Herve, rather suspicious of so complete a 
success, ordered the muskets to be re-loaded, and 
commanded the grenadiers to keep their ranks, after 
which the detachment moved on, preceded by the two 
young officers. They had not advanced ten paces, 
when suddenly the white shapes, which were lying 
pell-mell upon the ground, rose up in a body and 
trotted across the plain, jumping and frisking with an 
air of great vitality. 

"Forward, Francis!" cried Herve; "after them, full 
gallop ; and you, my men, chase them as you think 
best." As he spoke, he dashed his spurs into his horse's 
side, and sprang forward side by side with the young 
lieutenant upon the traces of the fugitives. Unfor- 
tunately the soil of the valley was marshy, and the 
horses sank almost at every step into mud-holes, 
which the phantoms had either had the wit, or possessed 
sufficient acquaintance with the spot, to avoid. The 
grenadiers rushed in disorder after their leaders, 



4:6 BELLAH ; 

and the chase, frequently interrupted, and accom- 
panied by a concert of cries, shouts, curses, and peals 
of laughter, added another strange scene to those of 
which the haunted valley had been the theatre. 

The troop of lavandieres having reached the 
extremity of the valley, half running, half dancing, 
began to climb the bank upon the top of which were 
placed the huge mass of ruins. Herve and Francis 
redoubled their efforts, and had at last the pleasure 
of feeling the firmer ground of the hill-side under their 
horses' hoofs. Pelven was a few steps in advance of 
his friend. 

" Wait for me, colonel!'' exclaimed Francis ; and 
seeing that Herve, without listening, went on scaling 
the bank, " beware 1" cried he, " you will get into 
some mess! There may be a hundred Chouans up 
there for aught you know!" 

' ' If there were a hundred thousand, with the great 
Chouan himself at their head," answered Herve, who 
was maddened past all endurance, ' ' I swear I will 
charge them." 

At the same instant, the young colonel reached the 
top of the ascent, and perceiving the lavandieres only 
a pistol-shot off, he gave a shout of triumph; for upon 
the level around of the table-land the striiffsde became 
greatly in favour of the horsemen. The fugitives 
finding themselves hard pressed, made a turn to the 
right, and fled as fast as they could towards the ruins; 
but Francis foreseeing this manoeuvre, had, as lie 
was climbing the hill, taken ground in the same di- 
rection, and Pelven saw him suddenly appear at a 
short distance off, riding in such a way as to cut off 
the lavandieres, who were thus hemmed in between the 
two officers. Ilerve now perceived them disappear 
behind a portion of the wall which stood apart, and 
which was surrounded by the remains of an exterior pos- 
tern of the castle, but could not perceive them emerge 
on the other side. Francis was disappointed in the 



A TALE OF LA VENDEE. 47 

same manner. " They are hidden behind that wall! " 
cried he. A few seconds after, leaping their horses 
over the ruins, they met from opposite sides behind the 
solitary wall; but all traces of the lavandieres had 
disappeared. They dismounted, knelt upon the 
ground, and proceeded to examine the spot, lifting up 
the rubbish and striking the earth with the pommels 
of their sabres; but whether it was that the night, 
which had become darker, prevented their success, 
or whether they were mistaken in attributing this 
sudden disappearance to the natural course of events, 
it is certain they could discover nothing which might 
explain in a natural manner this disagreeable con- 
clusion to their pursuit. 



48 BELLA] l; 



CHAPTER III. 

" Seigneur, j'ai recu un soufflet." — Molierh. — Le Sicilien. 

"This is a comedy," said Herve, rising, "which 
I shall ever regret not having been able to turn into 
a tragedy." 

" But I presume, colonel, that as soon as our men 
come up, we shall examine every spot, and turn over 
every stone, till we discover our fair fugitives." 

" I do not mean to do so. We have not the neces- 
sary instruments, and besides I have no wish that 
my grenadiers should be picked off one by one from 
the trap-hole of a cellar, or that we should be made 
fools of a second time. If, as I believe, these fellows 
have other exits by which they can escape in spite of 
us, we have only to keep a careful watch to-night, and 
so keep this Jack-a-lantern affair locked up in its box 
till to-morrow." 

" >So be it, colonel; but the canoness will have a 
rare laugh at the way in which we have been caught." 

" Let her laugh; we shall laugh in our turn, when 
the proper time comes. Silence! I hear our men." 

The soldiers now ran up panting and covered with 
mud; they shouted for joy when they beheld their offi- 
cers, and crowded round them full of curiosity. Herve 
thought it more prudent to tell them that the Chouans 
had had time to descend the opposite side of the hill 
before he had reached the top; he even pointed out 
at some distance a pine grove into which he said he 
had thought it useless to pursue them He was begin- 
ning to get embarrassed in his explanation, when he 
was extricated from his difficulty by the arrival of the 



a tale or" la Vendee. 40 

Women and the guide. Andree sprang from her 
horse, and threw herself tremhling upon her brother's 
neck, who briefly repeated to her the invention with 
which he had just entertained the grenadiers. Then, 
having placed a sentinel at the foot of the wall, under 
the pretence that he was to observe the pine wood, he 
gave his arm to his sister, and turned towards the 
chateau, followed by the whole company. 

" Dear Andree," said Herve to his sister, seizing 
a moment when the canoness could not hear him, " do 
you still feel any interest in me?" 

" Any interest? Good heavens! Herve, is interest 
the word for two orphans like us to employ? Say 
affection, the most sincere, the most tender affection." 

" Thank you, dearest Andree, for banishing a 
painful thought from my mind." 

"What thought?" 

" The thought that my sister might be an accom- 
plice in some enterprise undertaken against my 
honour both as a man and as a soldier," 

" Your honour, Herve? That is a word upou 
which I fear we shall not agree." 

" I will explain to you, then, the way in which I 
look upon it," answered Herve severely. "My 
honour consists in serving to the death those colours 
yonder; and I must tell you, Andree, that any plan 
which should have for its object the making me fail 
in this duty, would be turned to the confusion, grief, 
and pain of all those concerned in it." 

"In the name of heaven, dear brother!" said 
Andree, "what suspicion can you have formed against 
me?" 

"Against you in particular, none; but the scene 
which has just taken place, has not, I fear, been, so 
inexplicable to all the ladies as to you. I fear that 
it may be only the prelude to less harmless jugglery, 
and therefore I tell you, in order that you may 
repeat it to them, that I am utterly incapable of 



50 bellah; 

ever preferring my life to the honour of dying with 
my soldiers." 

Upon hearing these words, which revealed the 
nature of Herve's apprehensions, the young girl, as 
if involuntarily, heaved a deep sigh. " Heaven be 
thanked!" said she, hurriedly, " I am perfectly cer- 
tain that you and yours run no greater risk than 
ourselves in this journey;" and then bringing her 
mouth close to her brother's ear, " you know quite 
well besides," continued she, in a mysterious tone, 
"that to two at least of the party, your welfare, 
colonel, is not wholly indifferent." 

Leaving this drop of balm to produce its effect on 
the mind of the susjucious young man, Mademoiselle 
de Pelven, bounding lightly up the steps, disappeared 
in the vestibule of the deserted manor-house. The 
vast and irregular edifice, which the country-people, 
called the Chateau de la Groac'h, bore the impress of 
the different centuries through which it had passed 
since its foundation. The most considerable part of 
the ruins, the lofty donjon, which was still standing, 
and the remains of a battlomented wall of circumval- 
lation, retained the imposing character of a fortress of 
the twelfth century. Other less lofty buildings dis- 
played, by the peculiar nature of their formation, the 
traces of a period of architecture still more ancient, 
while the building with pinnacles which formed the 
wing opposite the donjon, seemed hardly so old as the 
latter days of the Valois. This part of the edifice was 
still fitted up with windows, ornamented with balconies 
of iron tracery. 

Mademoiselle do Pelven rejoined Bellah and the 
canoness in this pavilion. Conducted by the guide, 
they passed through the ruined apartments which 
formed the first story, and made a few hasty pre- 
parations for the night in the two rooms which 
seemed best fitted to afford shelter; whilst Kado set 
out a table for the women, and placed upon it some 



A TALE OP LA VENDEE. 51 

provisions which he had procured in the last village 
through which they had passed. The meal was 
a brief and silent one, and Andree and Bellah soon 
retired to the apartment prepared for them. The 
eanoness shared hers with Alix, and the Scotch 
waiting-woman took possession of a little oratory 
formed in a turret. Camp beds had been arranged 
beforehand by Kado's foresight, to whom the care 
of regulating the plan of the journey had been 
entrusted. 

When Bellah and Andree were left alone in their 
vast apartment, which was lighted only by a solitary 
lamp, they knelt down together and prayed for some 
time in silence. Andree rose the first, and approach- 
ing a window, she appeared to observe with interest 
what was passing in the court-yard of the old chateau. 
The soldiers had made fires here and there, the light 
from which flickered at intervals through the ruined 
arches and mutilated windows, whilst they were all 
establishing themselves in the best way they could for 
passing the night. On the grass-plot before the fagade 
of the manor-house, Colonel Herve was walking alone, 
occupied, doubtless, in pondering and commenting in 
his own mind upon his sister's last words, with that 
restless childishness common to lovers. He suddenly 
stopped, and raised his eyes to the window from which 
Andree was observing him. 

The young girl started back hastily, and began to 
pace in an agitated manner up and down the room, 
twisting her handkerchief in her fingers. Bellah had 
concluded her devotions, and remarking the extra- 
ordinary emotion which coloured Andree 's cheeks — ■ 

" What is the matter, dear sister?" asked she, with 
some anxiety. 

Andree made no reply, but pushed away the hand 
which attempted to take hers, and continued to walk 
hastily up and down, tormenting her little handker- 
chief. 



52 bellah ; 

" What now?" returned Bellah. " Are you vexed, 
dear Andree, and about what?" 

"Sister," said Andree, stopping suddenly before 
her, "this cannot last! I shall not be able to sleep 
to-night, nor the following night; I shall never be 
able to sleep again." 

" What! are you frightened to such a degree as 
that? But come, ma mignonne, I am with you, am I 
not? Your brave ancestors are not dreaming of 
frightening us. Besides, we have a light, and you 
know that gbosts " 

" Oh, I don't care for ghosts!" retorted Andree, 
" nor for my ancestors either. I wish I had never 
had any." 

Upon receiving this sharp answer, Mademoiselle de 
Kergant raised her eyes with that enchanting look 
which was peculiar to her, and then resumed: " But 
what does hinder you, then, from sleeping and allow- 
ing me to sleep, mademoiselle?" 

" I don't know," said Andree. 

Mademoiselle de Kergant sighed, made a slight 
gesture of compassionate interest, and, at length, 
answered gently; " Nor I cither, I am sure, my dear 
Andree." 

" Your aunt is an old dragon," cried Andree 
violently. 

"Sister!" 

" And you are another, Bellah!" 

" Indeed!" said Mademoiselle de Kergant quietly, 
with another upward glance. Andree lost all patience. 

" It never even entered your heads," cried she, 
" to invite my brother to sup with his sister! No! 
you have left him to wait outside, as if he were a 
dog. My poor brother! how we deceive him! And 
that you should treat him in this way, too — ! As 
for your aunt, it cannot be helped ; I was sure 
beforehand that she would; but you, who knew how 
devotedly Herve — " 



e> 



A TALE OP I, A VENDEE. 



The young- girl paused, and seemed to hesitate 
whether or not she should complete the sentence, while 
her companion's look expressed at once anxiety to 
hear and assumed disdain of the subject. 

" I am aware," said Bellah, " that Colonel Herve 
is the brother of my dearest friend, and it is because I 
do remember it, Andree, that I have been able to 
put such a restraint upon my feelings — I, a noble and 
a Christian — as to treat merely like a stranger a man 
whom I know to be an apostate, and a gentleman 
whom I know to have forfeited his honour." 

"Is it come to this?" cried Andree. " Then as 
certainly as you have now with those words effaced the 
remembrance of ten years of affection, the apostate 
and the felon shall know this instant what service ho 
may expect from your hands. He shall know, at 
least, that he is not the only traitor here. Let me 
pass!" 

"Andree," said Mademoiselle de Kergant, "you 
will not do this!" 

" I will!" returned Andree, whose firmly closed 
lips evinced her settled purpose. " You have made 
me blush for my brother; I am resolved that you 
shall blush in your turn before him." 

Bellah seized Andree's dress with a supplicating 
gesture, and almost falling upon her knees before 
her: " In the name of your family," said she, "by 
vour dearest hopes, I implore you to stay, darling 
Andree!" 

" No; no! you were pitiless, and I will be so, too," 
returned the young girl, stamping on the ground with 
her foot, in a sort of madness. " Let me go!" 

Andree sprang to the door. Bellah rose, and 
stood immoveable; her face had assumed a marble 
paleness, but her soul of fire was betrayed by the 
lightning of her glance, and by her nostrils dilated 
with anger. She raised her right hand with a 
queenly gesture, and speaking slowly and with dig- 



54: BELLAH ; 

nit j ; "Andree de Pelven," said she, "is this the 
hospitality which you practise under your father's 
roof? This place will be cursed in all future times 
for your crime; but, since the matter is becoming 
serious, since this misfortune must happen, yield in 
your turn. I will spare you the disgrace of treachery, 
and you shall see if I still blush when I bring mar- 
tyrdom upon myself." 

The young enthusiast, her lips still quivering with 
emotion, turned with dignity towards the door, against 
which Andree was leaning, her eyes fixed, and trem- 
bling all over. As Bellah attempted to pass her, 
the poor child ceased to tremble, her charming 
countenance was covered with a deathlike pale- 
ness, her eyes closed, and she slid gently upon the 
floor. Bellah fell upon her knees, took her friend's 
head in her arms, and covering the forehead and lips 
of the fragile being with kisses : 

" Holy Virgin! " said she, "what have I done? 
Andree! my sister! oh pardon him — help her! Poor 
heart! poor heart! It is I, Andree; nothing has 
happened, darling! Poor innocent, she does not 
know where she is. How could I have been so angry 
with her? Look up! speak to me — I will do anything 
you like, only speak to me, my sweet sister!" 

Andree recovered her senses by degrees under this 
shower of caresses; she opened her eyes, smiled like 
a waking child, and throwing her arms round Bellah's 
waist — 

" Confess," said she, "that you love him a tiny 
little bit!" 

" She is dreaming still," said Bellah. " Dear 
Andree, do you feel yourself better ?" 

' ' I am better, if you love him ; I am worse, if you 
do not," answered Andree. 

" Oh Heaven!" 

" Your heaven will be his heaven; your law his law, 
whenever you choose." 



a 



A TALE OF LA VENDEE. 55 

Then, rising quickly, and falling on Bellah's neck ; 
" Listen to me," continued Andree, " I do not want 
you to scream out of the window to him, ' Colonel, I 
adore you!' hut you owe him some little recompense 
for all his misfortunes ; you must give him some- 
thing. Let us see, what shall it he?" 

' ' Nothing, I assure you. ' ' 

"Ah! I have it," replied the mischievous girl, 
dexterously snatching the white feather out of Bel- 
lah's hat, " what a triumph for you to make a 
republican officer wear the king's colours!" 

This artful compromise was not at all to Made- 
moiselle de Kergant's taste: she sprang forward to 
regain the feather which her adopted sister was about 
to employ so traitorously; but Andree, more active in 
her movements than her friend, had already half 
opened the window, and Bellah was only in time to 
give by her presence a still more precious meaning 
to the light token, Avhich fell fluttering down upon 
Colonel Herve's head. Andree burst into a laugh, and 
Mademoiselle de Kergant withdrew hastily from the 
window with a gesture of dignified vexation. It 
might have been imagined that the charming missile, 
which now lay at Colonel Herve's feet, was endowed 
with some magic power, for, since he had felt its light 
touch, the young man appeared to have taken root 
at the spot where this event had interrupted his walk. 
He felt certain that they were watching him from the 
window, and he remained in a true state of agony, 
his eyes fixed upon the mysterious plume, not daring 
to take it up, and still less daring to leave it there. If 
he evinced the delight which he really felt, to what ridi- 
cule should he not expose himself if it had been accident 
or merely a jest of Andree's that had directed it in 
its flight. If, on the contrary, he left it lying there 
with apparent indifference, should he not run the risk 
of deeply offending her from whom he hoped at the 
bottom of his heart that this discreet message had 



5G BELLAH ; 

proceeded? Between these two fatal fears, Ilerve 
decided upon a middle course. He picked up the 
tiny plume, not with the gesture of an eager lover, 
but with the air of a man who has found something- 
strange, and whose curiosity is excited ; and he then 
resumed his walk, examining his prize with a sort of 
nonchalante simplicity, as if he were saying: " Why it 
is an ostrich feather! Where the deuce could it have 
fallen from, and who would have expected to find an 
ostrich feather in this part of the world?" But as 
soon as the young man was concealed from all curious 
eyes by the angle of the wall, his manner changed, he 
pressed the feather warmly to his lips; then, smiling 
at his own weakness, he unbuttoned his uniform, 
folded the plume in four, and placed it carefully next 
his heart. 

After having concealed his treasure, with as much 
anxiety as if he were concealing some bad action, 
Colonel Ilerve, seeing that the apartment of the 
young girls, as well as all the other parts of the ruins, 
seemed now buried in repose, turned towards the 
hall of the manor-house, where Francis had already 
sought refuge against the coldness of the night. The 
young colonel was mounting the steps which led to the 
threshold of the vestibule, when a feeling of precau- 
tion induced him to turn his eyes towards the isolated 
portion of wall at the foot of which his hunt of the 
htvandiercx had terminated in such a puzzling manner. 
Ilerve had himself chosen the soldier, who a short 
time before had relieved the sentinel first placed at 
this important post; he was a young grenadier named 
Robert, whose courage and intelligence were well 
known to him. He could not see the man; but, while 
examining the spot where he was placed, he perceived 
a white handkerchief fluttering above the ruins, and 
waved backwards and forwards apparently with the 
intention of attracting his notice. 

Herve hastily descended the steps, and walked 



A TALE OF LA. VENDEE. 57 

rapidly, though cautiously, towards the ruined postern. 
When only a few paces from it, he distinguished 
the sentinel, who, having also recognised him, took 
off the handkerchief which he had placed on the end 
of his bayonet, and was satisfied with making signs 
with his hand, as if to entreat him to redouble his 
speed and his precaution. A few seconds more, and 
Herve was close to the wall, face to face with tho 
soldier. " Well, Robert," said he, in a low voice, 
after having satisfied himself that no one was within 
hearing, " what is the matter?" 

" The matter is, colonel," answered the soldier, 
speaking very softly, with a kind of terror, mingled 
with gaiety, " the matter is, that it lies with us 
to catch the bird on its nest, and the king on his 
throne, and the courtiers and all the old ci-devant 
troop. They attempted to make you swallow a 
cheat as big as a church, and as long as from here 
to China: you are betrayed!" 

"Betrayed! How! by whom? Speak quickly!" 
cried Herve. 

"Speak lower, colonel, speak lower, returned the 
sentinel: this is the story: I was marching quietly 
up and down, with my eyes fixed upon the pine wood, 
according to orders, when, all at once, what do I hear 
behind or below me, I was not sure which, but a great 
noise of voices, as one might say a set of lawyers 
holding forth, and as I am naturally anxious to learn, 
I creep, and creep, and at last I get my nose into the 
hole, and — •" 

The soldier stopped, and stood with his mouth wide 
open, with a gesture of the most extreme terror; then 
Herve saw the unhappy young man bound backwards, 
and fall heavily upon the earth. At the same moment 
he heard the explosion of fire-arms, and was immedi- 
ately afterwards received by a heavy blow on the 
head, and fell completely senseless to the ground, a 
few paces from the grenadier. Then a man of athletic 



proportions, the person who had just committed this 
double act of violence with such cruel success, ad- 
vanced from the foot of the wall out of which he ap- 
peared to have risen, and threw a scrutinizing glance 
towards the chateau. Meanwhile, a figure of more 
fragile ajjpearance was bending over the inanimate 
body of the republican colonel, and was touching his 
head with care. 

" There is no harm done, I think," said he, in a 
voice the tones of which were remarkably sweet. 

"The shot has awakened them," said the other. 
They'll be all running up here, which will give us a 
fine opportunity to escape on the other side." As 
he spoke he followed his companion through a large 
opening made at the bottom of the wall, which in- 
stantly closed after them, and so effectually as to 
leave no trace of their passage. 



A TALE OF LA VENDEE. 50 



CHAPTER IV 

"Comment votis nommes vous? J'ai nom Eliaciu." — Kacinis. 

At the sound of the shot, all the soldier;;, led by 
Francis, rushed in disorder to the spot from which 
it appeared to have proceeded. The young lieu- 
tenant wrung his hands when he saw the body of his 
friend stretched motionless upon the ruins; hut his 
anxiety was relieved, when, with the aid of a torch, 
he convinced himself that there was no appearance of 
any wound. 

" The hand which gave that blow," said Bruidoux, 
gravely, picking up the colonel's hat which bore the 
marks of a fearful stroke, "the fist, I say, which 
made this pancake, certainly does not belong to a 
young lady's arm." 

"We must thank the wretch too, whoever he is," 
said Francis, ' ' that at least he did not wish to spill 
blood." 

"My opinion, lieutenant, on the contrary is that 
he has spilled a full bucket of it. I could not make out 
what it was that was running under my feet, but — " 

"Wretch that I am," exclaimed Francis, falling 
again upon his knees beside Herve's body; "I must 
have examined him carelessly, there must be some 
horrible wound!" 

"Horrible, indeed," said Bruidoux, in a pained 
and serious tone which was not natural to him; "but 
you are not looking for it in the right place, lieutenant. 
Here is the wounded man, or rather the deceased, for 
the lad appears to me to have pressed his musket to 
his left arm: yes, he has mounted his last guard." 

AVliile he was speaking, the serjeant, with the help 



60 BELLAH ; 

of the soldiers, was trying to raise Robert's body 
which the ruins had till then prevented them seeing. 

"Dead! are you sure he is dead, old Bruidoux? 
Is there really nothing that can be done?" 

"Nothing now, beyond a prayer for his soul, as in 
the old times, citizen lieutenant. The ball has pitched 
upon the best place, like an aristocrat as it was, 
and it has plumped itself into the heart. It's a pity," 
continued Bruidoux, "it's a pity to see a lump of 
lead, thrown by a cowardly rascal, enter so easily 
into the breast of an honest man; I would give my 
left eye to have that hag of a lavandiere who 
pressed her skeleton finger on the trigger, in a tete- 
a-tete for two minutes! It is needless to observe to 
you, citizens, that we are not going to leave our com- 
rade stretched out there like an old gaiter. He shall 
have his bed six feet long, as if he were a duke or 
peer of the old regime. Hem! hem! I loved that lad, 
my children, he was a brave fellow. He had not, no 
more than I have, the stuff in him to make a general- 
in-chief of, but sitting round the soup-pot or facing 
the enemy, there was much pleasure in being next to 
him: he was a companion of the most irreproachable 
description. Hem! hem! Citizens, a tear may fall 
upon a grey moustache without dishonouring it, when 
wo are bidding our last adieu to a friend. That poor 
devil Robert, citizens, it is all up with him!" 

The unacademical Bruidoux, passing his sleeve 
across his eyes, concluded his harangue. The solem- 
nity of the time and place, the presence, of the corpse, 
to whose features the vacillating glare of the torches 
seemed to give a strange vitality, the respected cha- 
racter of the speaker, had aided the moral effect of 
his funeral oration. The grenadiers, who formed 
Bruidoux's simple auditory, looked at each other and 
nodded their heads with a satisfied air, as if to assure 
each other that a soldier could desire no better a 
panegyrist than their old scrjeant. During this 



A TAT.TC OF I, A VENDEE. CI 

interval, Francis had succeeded in restoring his friend 
to consciousness, hut Ilerve's weakness would not allow 
him as yet to answer the eager questions of the young 
lieutenant. Some of the soldiers, under Bruidoux's 
directions, busied themselves in digging a grave with 
their sabres, in which the remains of their unfortu- 
nate comrade were interred. Others, forming a sort 
of litter with their muskets, prepared to transport their 
colonel to the chateau. They had traversed about two 
thirds of the distance, when the noise of a fresh explosion, 
and near at hand, suddenly arrested them. Herve 
made an attempt to rise, but fell back, exhausted by 
the effort. Francis, leaving two grenadiers with him, 
hastened with the rest of the men towards the donjon, 
from behind which the shot seemed to have been fired. 

The sentinel, who had been placed at this part of 
the ruins, was found at his post reloading his musket. 
When questioned by Francis as to his motive for giving 
this alarm, he replied that he had seen a proces- 
sion of black and white phantoms suddenly appear at 
the base of the escarpment upon which the donjon 
stood; that after having challenged them, without 
receiving any answer, he had fired at them. The 
soldier added, with a slight trembling in his voice, 
that they had instantly disappeared, as if the earth 
had closed upon them. A thick fog rising from a 
little river which ran at the foot of the donjon, ex- 
plained to Francis in a more natural way the cause 
of this new disappearance of their slippery enemy. 
He could not restrain an expression of bitter vexation; 
then recommending the sentinel to use the utmost vigi- 
lance, he ran to join Pelven, who, already quite re- 
covered from his swoon, was advancing to meet him. 
The young men, having related to each other the 
events which they had witnessed during the night, 
then dismissed the grenadiers to resume their inter- 
rupted slumbers. 

"I have no doubt," said Herve, when he was 



G2 BELLAH ; 

alone with his friend, "that all this has happened with- 
out my sister's knowledge; for this very evening she 
assured me that she knew we were exposed to no 
clanger, and I know she is incapa hie of falsehood. What 
appears to me' the most likely interpretation of these 
strange occurrences, is that we have disturbed a band 
of Chouans in their retreat. Unfortunately, we can- 
not pursue them in this fog." 

"And Robert gave you reason to believe that he had 
discovered there was an understanding between our 
travellers and the lawyers of the vault?" 

"The poor fellow seemed to think so," returned 
Herve, "and the somewhat rude forbearance which 
they showed to me, convinces me of the truth of what 
lie asserted. The canoness is mixed up with it, I am 
certain; but my sister must have been kept in the dark 
as well as myself." 

"I would swear it," said Francis. 

"That is unnecessary," replied Herve; "but 
really my head begins to pain, me more than is quite 
pleasant. I feel that I have great need of rest, and I 
shall endeavour to procure some. Try to sleep, too." 

They then separated; after having agreed to leave 
the ladies and especially Andree, in ignorance of the 
events of the night, in order to avoid giving cause 
of anxiety to some of the party, and cause of secret 
triumph to others. As Francis, after having quitted 
the colonel, was passing in front of the facade of the 
manor house, he could not help remarking*, with as- 
tonishment, the perfect quiet which reigned in this 
privileged part of the chateau. That the sleep of its 
fair occupants Avas unbroken by the shots and the 
noise which had followed, might be explained by that 
profound slumber which is one of the sweetest privi- 
leges of their age; but neither the canoness nor the fo- 
rester could allege such an agreeable excuse to account 
for their hardness of hearing. This insensibility to 
sound, while it increased the young lieutenant's 



A TALE OP LA VENDEE. 03 

vague suspicions, inspired him with a mischievous 
idea, which he seized upon immediately with hoyish 
delight. He picked \vp a stone, and having con- 
vinced himself that nohody was ohserving him, flung 
it against the canoness's window, after which he ran 
and concealed himself hchind a wall, laughing heartily 
with that joyous and thoughtless mirth which renders 
the school-boy happier than an emperor. 

At the noise of the breaking glass, which an- 
nounced the complete success of Francis's exploit, 
some of the soldiers, who were stretched here and there 
amongst the ruins, lifted up their heads with anxiety; 
hut the profound silence which succeeded, convinced 
them that they had again been the dupes of one of 
those thousand practical jokes which the demons of the 
night invent to plague unhappy mortals, and they 
quietly fell asleep again. Francis now perceived a 
shadow cautiously approaching the broken window, 
and thought he could recognise the sharp profile of the 
person he had principally intended to annoy. The 
canoness appeared to press something in the shape of 
a nose against one of the uninjured panes of glass, 
and Francis stooped down quickly and picked up a 
second stone: young men are pitiless. But the sha- 
dow, whether it had terminated its investigations, or 
whether it were impelled by some salutary presentiment 
sent by good geniuses sometimes even to old maids as 
well as to other creatures, retired from the window^ 
and there the affair ended. 

About three hours after the innocent conclusion of 
this episode, all the soldiers were astir, stretching 
their stiffened limbs, and warming them in the sun. 
The forester Kado began to saddle the horses with 
his usual gravity, while Herve and Francis, standing 
a little apart, seemed engaged in a lively discussion. 
Serjeant Bruidoux took his pipe out of his mouth, 
approached the two officers with diffidence, and lift- 
ing his hand to his cap — 



04 eellah; 

"Salut etfraternite! citizens," said he; "you seem 
as fresh as a two-year old this morning, colonel. I 
perceive with delight that the blow inflicted hy a 
first-rate fist has had no more effect upon you than 
if it had proceeded from the hand of a young girl. 
And is it your intention, citizens, that we should 
leave this old den without knowing precisely in 
what style the boudoir of these lady lavandieres is 
furnished?" 

"That is exactly what I was saying to the lieute- 
nant," said Herve. "Though we have eveiy reason 
to believe that tbe rascals have made off, still it is bet- 
ter to examine their stronghold. A very slight trace 
might give us the clue to their proceedings." 

"Of course," cried Francis. "There is no second 
opinion. Only let us all go. It is not right that 
you alone should run the risk of being caught in a 
trap. 

"And what evidence have you that there is any 
trap?" asked Herve. 

"Have I not pointed out to you the door by which 
they escaped at the foot of the donjon? They have 
left it wide open." 

"If it is a trap, it is a very cunning one. Light 
me a torch, Bruidoux. I repeat it again, lieutenant, 
I will not allow a single one of our men to risk a hair 
of his head in this affair. It is enough, it is too 
much, that I have already to reproach myself with 
the death of that poor fellow Robert." 

" Permit me," said Bruidoux, who returned with 
a lighted torch in his hand, and carrying two others 
under his arm, "permit me, citizens, to set you at one. 
Let us all three go; if there are any ladies, they will 
have all the more cause to be pleased." 

Herve, in spite of his wish to visit the suspected 
vault alone, consented to this arrangement, fearing 
to awaken the suspicions of the honest Serjeant by 
any further refusal. So having skirted the donjon, 



A TALI) OF LA YJiNI'EK. 05 

they all three began to descend with some difficulty 
the steep hillock which served as its foundation, by the 
assistance of the stunted shrubs which grew in the clefts 
of the rock. Having reached the foot they found them- 
selves only a few feet above the bed of the ravine, and 
in front of a small door which Colonel ITerve had dis- 
covered from above, and which was contrived in such a 
way as not to be easily observed from the plain below. 
This door, fastened to the rock, formed the entrance of 
a sort of narrow dark cave. Herve, his torch in his 
hand, entered stooping, closely followed by his two 
companions. After a few steps this passage termi- 
nated in a vast vaulted hall, to which arches per- 
fectly untouched by time gave a certain character of 
gloomy architectural elegance. A few torches were 
still smoking on the damp soil, but this was the 
only trace which could lead them to guess that any 
living beings had recently occupied this retreat. 

The principal cave communicated by an arched 
door with smaller chambers, in which the young men 
and the serjeant continued their researches. Herve 
examined that portion of the vaults corresponding 
with the wing of the manor-house which the canoiiess 
had occupied during the night. In the angle of a 
recess the red light of his torch suddenly flashed upon 
the steps of a winding staircase which was lost in the 
roof. Herve sprang hastily up the steps, but when 
he had reached the level of the roof, he found that 
the staircase was broken; five or six of the steps had 
been forced out of their places, and were lying at the 
bottom, leaving a space which it was impossible to 
cross. After a minute examination of these dilapi- 
dated remains, Herve was convinced that the demo- 
lition dated only from the preceding night, and his 
suspicions against the politic canoness were confirmed 
by this discovery. A careful search in the apartment 
of the old lady would not have failed to throw light 
on the conjectures of the young colonel upon this 

i! 



6G BELLAH ; 

head; but such had been his education that the 
thought of invading the sanctuary of any woman, 
however aged or culpable, was rejected with repug- 
nance. 

Herve rejoined the young aide-de-camp in a distant 
vault, just as the latter had laid his hand upon an 
enormous bolt which fastened a kind of low and broad 
trap-door, formed in the wall, and which was reached 
by a steep ascent of earth. Uniting their efforts, the 
young men pushed back the bolt, when the door fell 
down like a portcullis, and the daylight streaming 
full into the vault, they perceived that accident had 
directed them to the mysterious opening Avhich had 
so conveniently concealed the lavandieres the evening 
before, and through which Robert's assassin had 
escaped. The door was made of strong oak boards, 
lined on the inside with sheets of iron, and masked 
on the exterior with a slight brick work which fitted 
in exactly to the rest of the wall. The young men 
quitted the cave by this issue; but, just as they found 
themselves on the solid ground, they heard loud cries 
proceeding from the cavern, and they were about to 
plunge into it again, when Bruidoux appeared triumph- 
antly at the opening, holding by one ear a captive of 
an unexpected kind. 

At the old Serjeant's cries, the grenadiers, the 
forester, and the brilliant company of the emigrants, 
hastened towards the wall. The prisoner, in the 
midst of the wondering circle by winch he was 
surrounded, enqiloyed himself quietly in rubbing his 
eyes, to dissipate the dazzling effect of the sun. Ho 
was a child of about ten years of age, with blue eyes 
and a charming countenance; his black hair was cut 
square upon his brow, and flowed down upon his 
shoulders, and he wore a long vest made of brown 
eloth. 

Herve recognised him at the first glance, and 
looked at Kado with a mingled expression of 



A TALE OF LA VENDEE. G7 

reproach and pity, to which tho guide replied by 
an almost imperceptible gesture of grief. The wo- 
men meantime exchanged secret glances expressive of 
terror aud confusion. 

" Only imagine, colonel," said Bruidoux, "that this 
son of a lavandiere was sleeping like a y oung* otter on 
a heap of straw. His mamma must have forgotten 
him in the scuffle. By signs, and otherwise, I ad- 
dressed two or three polite cptestions to him: but 
my young gentleman seems a stranger to the habits 
of good company, and remains as mute as a fish." 

While the Serjeant was speaking, the child looked 
round with staring eyes; then, crossing his arms behind 
his back, he said, with an air of simplicity, which, if 
not genuine, was admirably acted — ■ 

"Oh! oh! what fine gentlemen are here, and 
beautiful ladies as well ! Good morning to you all ! 
Well! what are you all come here for?" 

"What are you here for yourself, you little imp?" 
cried Bruidoux. " I believe he will ask its for our 
passports next." 

Any doubts which Herve might still have enter- 
tained as to the duplicity with which he had been 
treated, vanished almost entirely at the sight of the 
well-known features of the captive child; but the 
young officer, touched by the anguish which he read 
on Kado's pale and contracted lips, hesitated to take 
the full advantage of his good fortune. 

" My little friend, " said he to the child, "you look 
too intelligent to play the part of a fool. You must 
tell the truth, or your age will not protect you from 
a severe punishment. You have passed the night 
with fellows whom we have more reasons than one to 
conclude are our enemies." 

' ' I should think so, indeed, ' ' muttered Bruidoux, "if 
if it were only on account of that ci-devant fisty cuff." 

"Silence! Serjeant," said Herve. "Come, my 
little fellow, who brought you here ? ' ' 



08 litLLAH; 

"The groac'h," said the child; "the groac'h of 
the valley." 

"The groac'h!" interrupted Bruidoux; "I'll give 
it you, with your groac'h ! I suppose it was your 
beauty of a groac'h that pulled the trigger which" — 

"Citizen Serjeant," said Herve, sharply, "let 
there be no more of this. This affair does not con- 
cern us, we will lose no more time in questioning 
him; only you must search his pockets. This child 
belongs to the law, who has punished younger than 
he. I am sorry to be forced to allude to; it, but 
those hard-hearted men who sacrificed the poor boy 
should have remembered that." 

"Yes, yes ! I know," said the little fellow, laugh- 
ing ; ' ' but you may do as you like ! The fairy will 
save me. Between ourselves, gentlemen, I must in- 
form you that she is my wife." 

"And this, I suppose, is her wedding present," 
said Bruidoux, pulling out of the young prisoner's 
pocket a humming-top and string. "You would 
have done better, my little man, to have stuck by 
this game, which, as you well know, citizens, is no 
potentate s amusement, but merely an honest and 
democratic pastime. When I was no bigger than 
this youngster, I used to pass the greater part of 
Sunday, and the whole of the week, playing with an 
instrument of this size in the church porch, which 
made our curate declare that I should end where 1 
began, namely with the rope; and all becavise one day 
I had driven my top into his shoe, a feat which en- 
chanted my father, who was a shoemaker in our town." 

While he was speaking, the old Serjeant had care- 
fully wound up the top, and now proceeded to spin it 
off, watching its rapid evolutions with a paternal smile; 
then suddenly stooping, he gathered it, as lie ex- 
pressed it, into the hollow of his right hand, and 
continued to admire with a low laugh the endless 
gyrations of the toy. 



A TALE OF LA VIINDKB. 00 

The women, meantime, had mounted their horses. 
Kado advanced to hold the colonel's stirrup, who 
hent down to the Breton's ear, and said in a low 
voice — 

" You are severely punished for having deceived 
me, Kado, and I am so likewise for having trusted in 
your good faith." 

The old forester shook with agitation, and replied, 
with his eyes hent upon the ground — 

"\es, yes! sir; the trial is sharp, and might 
have heen worse if you had chosen, I know. You 
were sorry for the child. Do you mean to take him 
with you, poor little fellow?" 

"If I did my duty, Kado, I should take both 
father and son too ! ' ' 

"The child is very delicate, my master. I loved 
to look at him, for he is the image of his departed 
mother. They say that Alix is like me, but the 
little one is his mother alive again. He is very 
delicate, sir; and, if a prison is to be the end of all 
this, or — " 

The forester stopped, and put his hand to his 
throat, as if he were choked by his emotion. 

"Master Kado," answered Herve, "I have given 
way too much already to old feelings, of which the 
rest of you seem to take so little account. Can 
you, or will you, confess aloud, before all these men, 
what is going on, and what is intended?" 

The Breton, after looking round with an air of 
painful indecision, lifted his hand towards heaven, 
and said, in a firm voice — 

"The child is in the hands of God!" 

"Fall into your ranks, and march," cried Herve. 

"Colonel," said Bruidoux, bringing the forester's 
son forward by the collar, "this little ape was mak- 
ing off to join his wife." 

"I give him into your charge, serjeant; you are 
answerable for him." 



70 EELLAH ; 

" In that case, come close up, my boy,'' said 
Bruidoux; and, talcing a long thick strap which 
had been used to fasten the baggage, he passed 
one end round his own waist and fastened the 
other firmly round the body of his young prisoner, 
and in this fashion rejoined the detachment, which 
descended the hill of ruins as the last morning mists 
were being scattered by the rays of the rising sun. 



A TALE OF L\ VKNllEE. 71 



CHAPTER V 

" Ride no further sire! return, for thou art betrayed." 

Old Chronicle. 

Does not that serious burden, Life, seem more easy to 
hear, when, in the morning sun, under the deep blue 
sky, we set forward on foot or horseback, journeying 
along hanks covered with flowers, looking upon the 
distant purple horizon, and breathing an air fresh 
as dew i 

In this first moment of delight, with all the elas- 
ticity of the frame restored by rest, the blessing of 
existence is suddenly realised, we are astonished that 
this could ever have been denied, while we contem- 
plate the enchanting framework in which it is sur- 
rounded, and we rejoice that we were born. A man 
passes by who speaks of the price of the funds, or of 
the elections — the charm is broken, and the divine 
picture spoiled. 

The delight afforded by such reflections was pictured 
on the countenances of the travellers. Herve and the 
old forester alone looked oppressed with care. Herve 
walked his horse a few steps in advance, seeking to 
reconcile his disturbed conscience, and calm his agi- 
tated mind. After what had passed, he could no 
longer have any doubt as to the species of treachery of 
which he was the victim. He felt that he would 
he justified in withdrawing, nay that he was 
called on to withdraw, his protection from those who 
were so openly abusing his confidence : every step 
he took made him the accomplice of an unknown but 
too certain deceit. On the other hand, to interrogate 
these women, to whom he was bound by so many 



72 EELLAH ; 

powerful recollections, with the severity of a judge 
or of an enemy, was a task for which he wanted 
courage ; besides, it would open the soldiers' eyes 
to a system of duplicity to which one of their com- 
rades had fallen a victim, and would at once aban- 
don the emigrants to the rigour of the most fearful 
reprisals. Andree herself might become implicated in 
dangers which she had no share in provoking ; in 
short, it would be to sacrifi.ce helpless women, to mur- 
der his own sister, and Herve, notwithstanding the 
severity of his principles, still wanted stoicism to 
burden his conscience with one of those acts which, 
however violent party feelings may applaud, are still 
condemned as infamous by the eternal laws graven 
in the heart of man. So Herve determined to con- 
tinue the journey as far as Kergant, hoping that some 
opportunity would soon arise when he might repair this 
momentary neglect of his duty, and determining, in 
any case, to place himself at the general's mercy as 
soon as he should rejoin him, by acknowledging to 
him all that had passed. 

More easy in his mind after having taken this re- 
solution, llerve's thoughts reverted to a more trifling 
subject, but to one scarcely less delicate: namely, 
the white plume which had floated down from Made- 
moiselle de Kergant's window, the precise mean- 
ing of which flight it was difficult to penetrate. A 
glance convinced him that the elegant riding hat of 
the young girl was no longer ornamented by its fea- 
ther. That at first appeared decisive ; but at the 
same time he observed with some vexation that 
the little Andree s bat had also lost its streaming 
ornament, and this made it all doubtful again. Andree, 
who had been on the look-out ever since they set off, 
had not failed to observe Pelven's twofold glance, 
though without making any remark upon it. She 
now struck her horse with her whip, and trotted up 
close to her brother. 



A TALE OF LA VENDEE. 7?> 

• ' Well, brother, ' ' said she, "this is a delicious morn- 
in»\ But what is the matter with your hat, colonel?" 

At the mention of a hat, Herve, who already grie- 
vously suspected his sister, felt his disturbance in- 
crease, and began to whistle and tease his horse by 
way of excuse for not answering ; but Andrec was 
not a woman to bo so easily thrown off the scent. 

" What an odd-looking hat you wear," she began 
again? A very odd hat, indeed!" 

" Odd! in what way?" said Herve, at last finding 
he could not escape her. 

" In what way? Why it looks so flat. Why do 
von not wear a plume of feathers in it?" 

A plume of feathers was, of all the phrases in the 
language, the one best calculated to vex Herve at 
that moment. 

" A plume of feathers!" repeated he, mechanically, 
and in a low voice. 

' ' A plume of feathers ! " said Andree, making her 
horse dance. 

" Did you sleep well last night?" asked Herve. 

"Not so badly! not so badly, colonel! only I had a 
plume — -I mean a dream — -of all kinds of coloured 
feathers." 

" On what plume did you walk this morning, to 
make you chatter so about them, little one? and 
apropos, what have you done with your own?" 

" What! have I lost it? Ah! I remember; it was 
carried away by the wind last night." 

" And the wind, it appears, had no greater respect 
for your friend's." 

'•Ah! ha!" cried the young girl, laughing, " now 
we have it! No; the wind only carried away one. But 
whieh? That is exactly, citizen, what I have pro- 
mised not to tell you, because if I were it would 
make you too happy, and therefore — in short, I am 
not going to put you on the scent," 

As she finished speaking, Andree wheeled her 



74: beixaii ; 

horse round, and resumed her former place by the 
side of her companions. 

While Colonel Herve was forgetting in more happy 
meditations the annoyances consequent on his equi- 
vocal position, Lieutenant Francis was studying 
with the corner of his eye, and with ill-dissembled 
delight, the features and deportment of his friend's 
charming sister. The young man seemed to find 
such a particular interest in this study, and more- 
over gave himself up to it with so much assiduity, 
that Mademoiselle de Pelven could not have helped 
observing it, even had she not been gifted with 
extraordinary powers of observation. A woman 
is seldom displeased with herself when she has at- 
tracted the attention of a man of suitable appear- 
ance, and quite as seldom is she displeased with 
the man who has judged her worthy of such atten- 
tion. It may be added, that if her admirer is classed, 
for any reason of politics, or social difference, among 
the enemies of the lady, this circumstance in general 
gives a more piquant flavour to the regale. Francis's 
slender figure, his lively air, and that youthful coquetry 
which made him twist his moustache and place his hat 
with an air upon one side of his curly locks, gave him 
altogether the appearance of a handsome page, at 
once innocent, saucy, and graceful. Mademoiselle 
Andree, therefore, had no good reason for being 
indignant beyond measure at what had befallen her; 
only, like any young girl who feels that she is 
examined with particular attention, she was now more 
silent and quiet than usual ; and again, rushing to 
the opposite extreme, she appeared possessed with 
a restless, chattering spirit, which gave wonderful 
activity to her tongue, and to her every movement. 

Francis, who felt as if he had been in love with her 
for centuries, thought he should look like a fool if 
he did not declare his passion without further delay, 
and in a manner not to he mistaken. He suddenly 



A TALE OF LA VEXDEK, 75 

spurred his horse forward, passed Herve as if he 
were exercising his steed, disappeared for a minute 
in a thicket, and then returned full gallop, conceal- 
ing with care a little bouquet of primroses, violets, 
and other wild flowers, for which he had heard 
Andree wishing a minute before. By good luck, 
Andree was then a few steps in advance of the 
eanoness; and Francis reined up abruptly before her. 

" Mademoiselle," said he, presenting his nosegay, 
" your brother sends you this." 

The fib was a flagrant one. If Andree had only 
had time to foresee what was coming, and to reflect 
for a moment, the young man would have been lost; 
but the ignorance of all danger common to lovers of 
Francis's age, and the happy audacity which is its 
natural consequence, often procures for them the no 
slight advantage of taking the fair one by surprise. 
Andree, therefore, not very well knowing what she 
was about, took the flowers from his hand and bent 
her head, murmuring at the same time her thanks. 

It may well be believed that such a scene was not 
one which the eanoness was likely to contemplate with 
indifference. She immediately rode forward to the 
speakers at a sharp trot scattering a cloud of perfumed 
powder in the air as she passed, so that she might 
have been followed by the scent like some ancient 
goddess, and fixing on Andree's blushing counte- 
nance a look which presaged a storm: " What has 
happened?" asked she. " What strain was that 
patriot troubadour breathing in your ear?" 

" He begged me, madam," said Andree, " to offer 
this nosegay to you, not daring to do so himself on 
account of the respect with which your, — what did he 
say — dignified — yes, your dignified countenance in- 
spired him." 

During this speech, the flowers had passed from 
Andree's little white hand into the withered fingers of 
the eanoness, while Francis spurred his horse with 



/ <) BELLAH ; 

such violence that it plunged, kicked, and had almost 
thrown him. 

"Hi! M'sieu! young man!" said the old lady: 
"how do you call these kind of people? My friend, 
lieutenant!" 

"Citizen, madam," said Andree. 

" M'sieu citizen!" cried the canoness; then ob- 
serving the handsome features of the young officer, 
who had at last approached her — "My child," asked 
she, "where did you learn respect for women?" 

"From my mother, madam;" answered Francis, 
dryly. 

"That is well said," replied the canoness, "and I 
will keep your nosegay. You have early lost your 
way in an evil path, my child." 

"Evil! not so, madam," said the youth, smiling, 
"since I have the honour to meet you in it." 

"This is wonderful!'' said Madame de Kergant. 
"And how happens it that a young man, wellborn as 
you appear, can be devoted to the service of these 
ferocious ignoramuses, these blood-thirsty rustics — " 

"Of the National Convention?" interrupted Fran- 
cis. "I am naturally fond of fighting, madam; 
and, naturally too, I prefer fighting for my country, 
rather than for foreigners." 

"Unhappy child!'' cried the canoness, "they have 
warped your judgment with high-sounding words, so 
that, you cannot understand. But how can your mo- 
ther, since you mentioned her — " 

"I did mention her; but let us speak of her no 
more, madam, I entreat you," said Francis, quickly 
As he spoke, his eyelids, fringed with long lashes like 
a woman's, drooped hastily, as if to arrest the tears 
which had sprung to his eyes. 

A moment's silence followed this involuntary ex- 
pression of hidden grief. Then Andree, suddenly ad- 
dressing the canoness with an indifferent air, which 
was belied by the tear on her cheek, said — 



A JAI.B OF LV VEXllIiE. it 

"Let mc see, dear aunt, have those violets any 
smell?" 

As she spoke, she took from the canoness's hand 
two or three of the flowers, which she was careful 
not to return. 

Francis thanked the fair speaker by a look, the ten- 
der expression of which covered her face with blushes. 
At this moment an alteration in the line of march 
forced the young ofHcer to leave the two ladies, and 
relieved Andree from her embarrassing position. 

The country which the detachment was travers- 
ing had by degrees changed its appearance. It no 
longer wore its former bleak and melancholy aspect; 
the horizon had become more confined, the roads were 
more regular, and mow wound between tall green 
hedges, which were raised like natural intrenchments, 
and crowned, at short intervals by large trees in full 
leaf; the hedges inclosed fields and meadows planted 
with apple-trees loaded with pink and white blossoms. 
At the noise made by the horses, large oxen passed 
their thoughtful heads over these thick hedges, and 
contemplated the travellers with an abstracted air. 
Here and there amidst the trees appeared low cottages 
covered with moss and lichen, while the oaks in the 
hedge-rows, and the apple-trees in the fields, grouping 
in large masses, made the country appear as if it were 
covered with a thick forest, rising from which a 
slender church steeple indicated, from time to time, 
the site of a village. 

But the thoughts of peace and happiness which were 
excited by this charming landscape, faded away before 
the recent and disastrous tokens which appeared at 
almost every step in the shape of ruined dwellings, 
smoking roofs, and long funereal mounds. Nature 
hastened in vain, with a mother's care, to conceal the 
traces of the crimes and misfortunes of men by cover- 
ing them with flowers and vegetation; the fields were 
lying fallow, and those who should have cultivated 



78 BEIXAH ; 

them were burled in the barren furrows. From time 
to time the travellers heard a broken sob, or the low 
murmur of a voice, in the vicinity of the road, and saw 
women and children kneeling and praying — living effi- 
gies upon otherwise unmarked tombs. Broken trunks 
of trees, scattered boughs, suspicious-looking breaks 
in the hedges, the still fresh marks of a desperate 
struggle, the strange colour of the mud in the ditches, 
announced, from time to time, the theatre of one of 
those combats where the glory of the victor, on which- 
ever side he might have fought, was obscured by the 
crime of the fratricide. 

"It must be confessed, colonel," said Francis, 
at length breaking the silence under which he had 
till now concealed, in common with the rest of the 
party, the thoughts produced by these mournful 
traces, "that civil war is an awful spectacle." 

"Say all war, Francis, whether civil or otherwise. 
Do you think that what is misery here, is not so in 
foreign countries? Does the crime, if it be a crime, 
cease at our boundary line ? Do you think that 
the agonies and curses are less bitter or less reason- 
able because they are expressed in a language which 
is not ours ? The human mind requires centuries to 
master the most simple truths; it can only compre- 
hend truth by degrees, and it understands at first only 
those features which touch it most nearly. A duel 
between two men is called an absurd prejudice; and 
a duel between two nations, which is only an appli- 
cation on a large scale of the same principle, is 
looked upon as a reasonable action. What do we 
term civil war — we, the children of that Christian 
religion in the eyes of which the human race is but one 
vast family? If the earth is our common country, 
of which all men are the citizens, all war is civil war, 
all war is a barbarous foil}'." 

"And yet you are a soldier?" said Francis, look- 
ing at Herve with some surprise. 



A TALE OF LA VENDUE. 79 

" The period in which a truth first starts to light is 
not that in which it exercises most power," answered 
the young colonel. "We may think differently from 
our age, hut wo must act with it." 

" But this fearful intestine war, Herve, has at 
least come to a conclusion?" 

'•Yes, for a few days, for a few hours," replied 
Herve, sadly. 

It may be as well to mention here upon what ap- 
pearances this opinion of the young colonel's was 
founded, an opinion secretly shared by the chiefs of 
both parties, and which events were about so speedily 
to justify. The treaties of La Taunaye, La Mabilaye, 
and St. Florent, signed in succession by Charette, 
Cormatin, and Stofflet, appeared, it is true, to have 
included in the pacification all the insurgent provinces 
— Anjou, Brittany, and Upper Vendee; but the repub- 
lican generals and representatives were too well ac- 
cruainted with the persevering intrigues of the royalist 
partv in Paris and London, to have had any other 
object in view in concluding this armistice but that of 
increasing division among the rebel ranks, and of 
disgusting the peasants with war, by inducing them 
to resume their rustic labours. On the other hand, 
the extremely favourable conditions, open and secret, 
granted to the royalists in these treaties, would have 
been sufficient to awaken the suspicions of the chiefs 
of that party, even if they had been as sincere in 
giving their adhesion to them as the most public docu- 
ments of history prove them to have been the reverse. 

The amnesty, no doubt, had been proposed and ac- 
cepted with reciprocal good faith, but it could not have 
been so with those articles which, organizing the 
most warlike of the Vendeans and Chouans into ter- 
ritorial guards under the command of the royalist 
chieftains, allowed a state to exist within a state, and 
formed a perpetual nursery of rebellion in the very heart 
of the Republic. Those secret and unheard-of conces- 



80 JSEIXAH; 

sions especially, by which the republicans engaged to 
restore the youmj; kinar, Louis XVII. to the chiefs 
armed in his name, could not he sincere, and re- 
quired an imperial testimony to make them credible. 
The credulity of the Vendean diplomatists, in the face 
of these political impossibilities, would be inconceiv- 
able, if it were not known that while they pretended to 
believe all they were told, they showed plainly at the 
same time that they knew the full value of these 
feigned professions. This peace, in short, was nothing 
more, even in the minds of those who had concluded 
it, than a suspension of arms in which each side 
hoped to find its advantage. 

This slight historical digression is necessary in 
order that our tale may he understood: but it must 
not be supposed that this story has the slightest 
pretension to be historical; that being a dignity which 
it can in no way pretend to, and which would carry 
us far beyond our knowledge and ability. 

At noon the cavalcade halted for an hour to dine, 
and the journey was then resumed till evening 
without any further incident than the passing two 
or three republican cantonments with whom tbe 
pass-word was exchanged. The outlines of the 
horizon were becoming more sharply defined in the 
twilight, which was now beginning- to fall, when 
the modest Oolibri thus addressed the circumspect 
Bruidoux: — 

" Am I far wrong, serjeant, when I picture 
America to myself as being a country in which the 
greatest part of the men are asses:'" 

The serjeant shrugged his shoulders with a brusque 
movement, the effect of which was to make the little 
long-haired captive whom he had in tow nearly stumble. 

"March then, young jackanapes," said Bruidoux. 
" I must tell you first, Colibri, by way of preamble, 
that this little federalist almost cuts nry back in two, 
As for the idea which you have formed to yourself 



ATAI.BOr U VENDEE. 81 

of America and its inhabitants, whom you take to be 
asses, it would stamp yourself as an ass in any society. 
Will you march, you little rogue? If you pull the 
rope again you shall become acquainted with the 
shape of my foot! There are no such things as asses, 
Colibri: that is a creature invented by tyrants to 
humiliate the free man! America, Colibri — do you 
dare to pull the rope again, you young rascal? Prepare 
your pipes, for I am going to play on them — America, 
my hoy, is exactly as I told you — Ha! dial little 
C i 'burg — and you may now converse about it with 
facility and — very good, my chicken, you do not weigh 
more than a feather now — -with facility and confidence, 
Colibri, my friend — Hey! twenty thousand devils! 
where is that Chouan's son? He has cut the rope! 
Stop! — stop the prisoner! In the field! to the right! " 

The child had, in fact, profited by the first shades 
of evening to effect his escape, the means for accom- 
plishing which he had no doubt been fm - nished with 
during the last halt, and was now scampering across a 
ploughed field, which was separated from the road by a 
narrow ditch. Bruidoux strode across this, and dashed 
after the fugitive, the soldiers following him with loud 
shouts; but he had hardly reached themiddle of the field 
when the child scaled the hedge at the farther end, 
which bordered on a thick wood. The boy turned when 
he had attained this position, and made a sign with 
his hand, as if to speak. A dozen muskets were 
levelled at the little fellow. 

" How now! " cried Bruidoux, panting. " The first 
that fires, I swear I'll knock him down! Are we 
murderers of children? Speak out, my jewel!" 

" Take great care of my top," cried the escaped 
captive, springing into the wood and disappearing. 

" Well!" said Bruidoux, regaining the road amidst 
the ill-concealed laughter of his comrades, "take your 
laugh, my lads. Your top, you little sauce-box!" 
added the old Serjeant between his teeth. "If I live 



82 BBLLAH ; 

long enough to meet you again when your beard is 
grown, see if I don't make you swallow it, string and 
all. 

"Well, serjeant," interrupted Herve, dissembling 
with difficulty the satisfaction he felt at the result of 
the adventure, " so you have gone over to the 
royalists?" 

" Faith, citizen colonel," answered Bruidoux, with 
a little vexation, "if you mean to say that I ought to 
have had the little varlet shot, and that I deserve to be 
punished, why let them lodge a dozen bullets in my 
heart at once, and have done with it, for that is not 
my way of thinking." 

" Nor mine either, my old Bruidoux," said Herve. 
" I know how you can acquit yourself face to face 
with a man. As for women and children, let us leave 
them to those gaolers and executioners who dishonour 
the Republic." 

The brave serjeant, completely restored in the eyes 
of his subordinates by the young; colonel's speech, 
undid the now useless strap, and whirling it round his 
head made use of it to inform the loudest laughers of 
the party that he had not failed to perceive their 
indiscreet gaiety. He was interrupted in this recrea- 
tion by the forester Kado, who offered him his gourd 
with cordiality, saying, " We may not think exactly 
alike upon many things, comrade; but all I possess 
is at the service of the man who has pity upon help- 
less creatures." 

The serjeant appeared more surprised than dis- 
pleased at this overture on the part of Kado. Ho 
paused a second, then accepted the gourd, from which 
he took a long draught, and returned it to the Breton. 

"All brave men," said he gravely, "have the 
same ideas upon certain points." 

The march was once more resumed, and, under the 
combined influences of night and fatigue, silence was 
soon restored in the ranks of the column. Herve 



A TALE 01' LA VENDEE. 83 

having - remarked more than once that Andree drooped 
in her saddle, as if she could hardly keep herself awake, 
rode up to her, and continued by her side. Under this 
protection the young girl yielded to a drowsiness 
which was assisted by the quiet pace of her steed. 
She was awakened by the distinct though still distant 
sound of a clock which struck eleven. Andree listened 
attentively, and then, clapping her hands for joy, 
exclaimed, " Follow me, Bellah!" yonder is our 
Kergant ! that is the chapel clock ! Pardon me, 
brother, I must ride on — you will give me leave ?" 
and without waiting for an answer, the charming girl 
put her horse to a gallop up a wide dark avenue, at 
the end of which lights were seen sparkling between 
the trees. 

The seignorial manor-house of Kergant was a 
building of a severe, almost conventual character. It 
was built in the form of almost a perfect triangle, 
each angle of which was terminated by a high turret 
with a pointed roof. The foundations rose from a 
moat filled with water, but a permanent bridge occu- 
pied the place of the draw-bridge of former days 
and gave access to the principal entrance. The 
little chapel, the clock of which had just struck, rose 
to the right of the castle on the top of a little hillock, 
the sides of which were clothed with green turf. 
Several out-buildings, used as farm-yards and stables, 
enclosed a space in front of the manor-house which 
served as a court-yard. In the middle of this open 
space, servants carrying torches were listening with 
respect to the orders given them by a man whose 
head indeed age had whitened, but without bending 
the lofty figure, or relaxing the muscles of the manly 
and rigid countenance. The Marquis de Kergant 
was clothed completely in black ; a band of crape 
encircled his arm, and a like token of mourning was 
fastened to the hilt of the hunting sword which hung 
at his side. Andree and Bellah sprang from their 



84 bellah; 

horses simultaneously, and the marquis pressed them 
together to his heart. The old lord then approached 
the Scotch waiting-maid, and pointed out the castle 
to her. bowiner at the same time with ceremonious 
politeness. The daughter of the Macgregors took 
the canoness's arm, and turned towards the entrance 
of the chateau. 

" Follow them, my daughters," said the marquis; 
"you must be half dead with fatigue." 

"Pardon me, my father," interrupted Andree, in 
a supplicating tone, ' ' hut we did not come alone ; there 
is one— what shall I say? — there is one-—" 

"Go! my child," answered the marquis, "your 
brother's room is prepared." 

Andree seized her adopted father's hand, and 
pressed it to her lips ; a tear dropped upon it, and 
she followed her friend. M. de Kergant accompanied 
the young girls to the bridge which crosses the moat. 
There he stopped, ordered his people to range them- 
selves behind him, and waited. 

At this moment, the republican detachment entered 
the court-yard of the chateau. Herve dismounted, 
and advanced towards the marquis with an emotion 
he could scarcely conquer. Francis and the soldiers 
followed him at a little distance. On reaching the 
bridge, he uncovered, and saluted the old man pro- 
foundly. 

"Sir!" said the Marquis de Kergant, returning 
his salutation, "receive my thanks." 

"I hope, sir," answered Herve, "that they are 
given me sincerely as I trust I have deserved them!" 

" Be assured, citizen colonel, since such is your 
title," returned the marquis, " that I am not one of 
those whose mouth says 'yes' when their heart says 
' no.' Permit me to offer hospitality for the night to 
the son of the Count de Pelven." 

Herve was surprised and oifended at the bitter, 
haughty tone in which these words were spoken. 



A TALE OF LA VENDEE. 85 

" Sir," said he, "1 must beg the same favour from 
you for my lieutenant and my soldiers." 

"And these gentlemen will know how to take it 
for themselves, I presume, in case of a refusal." 

"Sir, I entreat you — ■" 

"It is what I am curious to see," interrupted the 
marquis, raising his voice. "I have taken an oath 
never while I live to allow any of the butchers of 
your pretended Republic to enter under my roof, and it 
is enough that I break my oath for your father's son." 

At this insulting declaration, an angry murmur 
burst from the ranks of the grenadiers. Herve imposed 
silence with his hand, and then turning again towards 
the marquis: — 

"And may I ask you, sir," said he, "if you took 
this oath on the same day that you signed the treaty 
with our representatives, and accepted the amnesty 
of our pretended Republic?" 

"So!" cried M. de Kergant, with violence; "but 
I made it on the day when you dyed your banners in 
the blood of your king, and I renewed it when I heard 
only yesterday in what esteem we were to hold your 
word of honour, when I learned that you had basely 
assassinated the son of the martyr in his prison. 
There are no more treaties! there is no more peace! 
Enough! citizen Herve, enter, fear nothing, but ask 
no more from me." 

"You cannot seriously believe me capable of ac- 
cepting such hospitality," said Herve, with a smile, 
the quiet politeness of which made the blood rush to the 
forehead of the old gentleman. "Since I find that I 
am in an enemy's country, I am well aware how 
soldiers are accustomed to pass the night under such 
circumstances. Come my men! we will bivouac 
together. ' ' 

The grenadiers answered with a shout, and followed 
the young man, who left the chateau with hasty 
steps. 



86 bellah; 

"Colonel!" said Bruidoux, "he would not be so 
saucy if he had not a few dozens of Chouans in 
his cellar. But it's all one — give the word, and we 
shall see who'll sleep in the open air to-night.'' 

"No!'' answered Herve; "they would say again 
that we were the first to violate treaties. I am 
not displeased, moreover, at this reception; it spares 
me a painful effort. But who is that following us ? 
Ah ! is it you, Kado ? Well ! my friend, do me a 
service ; take care of our horses. I suppose the 
poor beasts are not included in the oath of exclusion.'' 

"I will, sir. Can I do nothing more?" 

"These brave fellows have empty stomachs, my 
good Kado. Go to the village, and bring us some- 
thing for supper. You will find us on the Eocky 
Mount. Here is my purse." 

"But, M. Herve—" 

"Take my purse, I tell you, and, on your life, pay 
for everything, even if you have to force the money 
into the old man's hand.'' 



A TALE OF LA VENDEE. 87 



CHAPTER VI. 

" Your voice pleases me, child of the night, 
For phantoms cannot terrify my soul ; 
Your voice is charming to my heart." 

Ossianic Chants. 

Guided by the still vivid recollections of his youth, 
Colonel Herve, followed by his company, entered a laby- 
rinth of paths which led them, after a march of a few 
minutes, to the foot of a bare steep knoll. With the 
exception of a few tufts of reeds, the only vegetation 
which grew upon the ungrateful soil of this hill was 
a grass as fine and short as moss which covered it 
from the top to the bottom, and on which it was 
difficult to keep a firm footing. There was not a rock 
to be seen, not even the tiniest little pebble, which 
could justify the name of the Rocky Mount which 
Herve had given it. The soldiers paused, and seemed 
hesitating to climb this barren slope across which the 
night wind swept keenly, and which appeared, of 
all places in the world, the least calculated to afford 
them shelter. 

"Patience, my lads!" said their young com- 
mander; "you will be surprised when you reach the 
top." 

The soldiers then commenced the ascent by the first 
path that presented itself. Herve was preparing to 
follow them, when the accents of a panting voice, 
calling him by his name, arrested him. 

"It is your sister," said Francis. 

"Yes, yes, it should be so!" murmured Herve. 
" Accompany the men up, my friend, and I will soon 
rejoin you." 



88 bellaii; 

The young lieutenant disappeared, and at the same 
moment Andree, terrified and out of breath, threw 
herself into her brother's arms. 

"Come! my darling, take courage," said Herve; 
" we ought to have expected this. No weakness, I 
entreat you." 

Andree raised her head to answer, but a fresh 
burst of grief threw her sobbing and panting again 
on the young man's breast. 

' ' My poor little sister ! come, take courage, ' ' whis- 
pered Herve. Then raising his troubled brow to 
heaven, with a sudden gesture of despair, while 
Andree continued to sob as if her heart would break 
upon her brother's bosom, "Oh, heaven!" he said, 
' ' she prays for peace ! Listen to her ! She is im- 
ploring the termination of our discords ! Oh ! grant 
her prayers ! ' ' 

"Take me away! take me from this place!" 
sobbed Andree. 

Herve made her sit down by him, and took her 
hand. 

"Take you away, dear child? Where? To a 
camp, to a prison?" 

" Anywhere, dearest brother; I cannot remain under 
a roof from which you have been repulsed with 
insult." 

"But you mistake, darling; they have merely 
treated me as if I were an enemy, which in truth I 
am. It is quite natural that the report, whether 
true or false, of the death of the young pretender, 
should have exasperated Al. do Kergant to such a 
degree as to make him forget his proper dignity." 

"Will you not take me with you, Herve ?" entreated 
Andree, in the most caressing tone. 

" Till I can offer you a safe and honourable asy- 
lum, my child, I must leave you in the one our 
father selected for you." Herve rose as he spoke: 
" We must part," continued he, " 1 will not give my 



A TAT.E OF LA VENDUE. 89 

soliliers time even to conceive the idea that I have 
abandoned them." 

" Part!" repeated Andree. " Have we met only 
to part so soon, and in such a manner?" 

' ' I promise you, Andree, not to go to-morrow till 
I have seen you." 

Andree made him repeat his promise, and Herve, 
after having pressed her to his heart, turned abruptly 
away, and hastened up the steep side of the hill. 

The slope of the down was too abrupt, and the 
grass which covered it too slippery, to make it pru- 
dent to ascend it in a direct line. Even in the active 
excursions of his childhood Herve had generally 
taken a side-path, which ran twisting and winding 
between the inequalities of the hill; but the obstacles 
and perils which deter an indifferent traveller are 
unfelt or disdained by one agitated by violent emo- 
tion, and whose mind is engrossed by some fixed 
idea ; they even afford a fancied relief, by withdraw- 
ing for a time the thoughts from the subject which so 
painfully engrosses them. Herve, with a tortured 
heart, had sprung in a species of frenzy up the 
steepest part of the bill : but towards the middle of the 
ascent he could no longer keep his footing upon the 
burnt -up grass, and bending down on his hands 
and knees he was often obliged to seize hold of 
the tufts of thorny furze, which tore his hands, 
to prevent himself rolling to the bottom. Francis, 
attracted to the spot by the noise he made in climb- 
ing, and by his quick breathing, imagined that his 
friend was the object of a fierce pursuit. 

"Courage!" cried he, " we are all here. Have 
we more lavandieres on our hands ? In the name 
of heaven, what is the matter?" 

"It is nothing, only I think I am about to 
lose my senses," said Herve, falling down ex- 
hausted at the lieutenant's feet. 

The summit of the knoll formed a large level space 



90 bellah; 

as smooth as a lawn, the edges sloping gently down 
to the exterior ; its aspect was singularly wild, hounded 
as it was by a stormy sky, which, in the broken light 
of the moon, assumed strange and fantastic forms. 
Towards the centre of the plateau, a considerable 
space was strewn with blocks of stone, which from 
afar presented to the eye nothing but a confused mass ; 
but on a nearer approach it was plain that a cer- 
tain mysterious order prevailed amongst them. These 
stones were of all shapes and sizes. Some rose in 
solitary grandeur, like colossal obelisks, or were 
ranged symmetrically in long parallel lines, like 
phantoms petrified in their grey mantles ; some were 
placed across others, rudely imitating a long and nar- 
row table fixed on one claw, while a great number were 
laid horizontally on two uprights, on that elementary 
principle of architecture which children put in prac- 
tice when building their houses of cards. In other 
places several massive blocks and fiat stones had been 
arranged in such a way as to form low covered gal- 
leries, closed at one extremity, which appeared to be 
the utmost limit of the builder's art, and with which 
the unknown fashioner of these shapeless monuments 
had apparently been satisfied. 

The soldiers were strolling amongst these remains, 
examining them with curiosity. No ridge of rocks 
pierced the soil, no irregularity in the ground indi- 
cated the spot from which these gigantic materials 
had been taken; they must have been brought to 
this crest from the bottom of the valley. But by what 
means, and for what object? This was a question 
which even the sagacity and experience of Bruidoux 
himself could not determine. However, one of the 
favourite axioms of the Serjeant was, that a military 
chief should never allow himself to be taxed with ig- 
norance by his subalterns ; so he made no scruple 
of asserting positively to Colibri that, at a period 
now somewhat distant, the son of a certain aris- 



A TALE OV LA VKNDKH. 91 

toerat of a giant had amused himself by piling these 
pebbles one upon the other, instead of going quietly 
to sehool as he ought to have done; "for," added 
tlie serjeant, "a father ought to be obeyed, even 
were he an ogre ; and even Pitt and Cobourg's sons 
ought to obey Pitt and Cobourg, strange as that may 
appear!" 

These disputations were interrupted by the arrival 
of Kado, who was driving before him a little horse 
tottering under a load of eatables and dry wood, to 
which the soldiers immediately paid their respects. 
The old forester offered his assistance in lighting the 
fire, exchanged a hearty shake of the hand with the 
Serjeant, and then left them, promising Herve and 
Francis to bring their horses the next morning by 
day-break to the foot of the knoll. 

After supper, the grenadiers chose their several 
quarters for the night under the shelter of the Druidi- 
cal remains, and soon all slept peacefully beneath these 
stones on which the rust of centuries now concealed 
the stain of human blood. Francis himself yielded by 
degress to the sweet influence of sleep at the entrance 
of one of those clumsy galleries of which we have 
spoken, while Herve was relating to hirn how he had 
formerly seen old people praying on these relics of 
the religion of their ancestors. The young colonel 
smiled when he perceived that he had lost his au- 
ditor, arranged with a fatherly care the folds of 
Francis's cloak, and then left him, with a sigh of 
regret for that age,- now passed for him, when the 
eyelids are so easily closed in slumber. 

After having walked round the formerly sacred 
edifice, Herve seated himself upon one of the flat 
stones which were scattered here and there over the 
knoll. This spot still retained in the memory of the 
inhabitants of the country a vague trace of its ancient 
character. The uncertainty whether it ought to be 
feared or respected, sometimes drove them away from 



02 BELL.Ur, 

it as from a cursed spot, sometimes prostrated them 
at the foot of these pitiless altars with prayers upon 
their lips. That feeling of superstitious curiosity 
which exercises so much power in childhood, and from 
which the mind of man is never completely free, had 
marked this spot among the liveliest recollections of 
Herve's youthful days. When quite a child, his mind 
imbued with ancient legends, he had been attracted 
to the Eocky Mount by that kind of luxury of fear 
with which we all are familiar, fie remembered that 
one evening when he had ventured under the dark 
shade of one of the covered galleries, he was sought 
for at nightfall and found senseless there, as if he had 
suddenly encountered the awful presence of the deity 
which the old priests used to crawl into these dens to 
seek. 

Bellah, whose thoughtful disposition and turn of 
mind were powerfully attracted by this romantic site, 
often accompanied Herve to the Druidical mount. 
When twilight peopled this melancholy city of stones 
with doubtful shadows, the terrified girl would appeal to 
the age and experience of her adopted brother, and the 
charm of protection thus given and received, had been 
to them the presentiment of a more tender affection, 
and the first link of a closer chain. Their young ima- 
ginations loved to invoke the fearful and terrible tra- 
ditions of their native country, sometimes tracing out 
the marks of fairy feet upon the mossy hollows, some- 
times searching for the traces of the bloody rites in the 
ominous-looking clefts in the altars. It was there, in 
short, that the two children had experienced the first 
palpitations of a common danger, and the first delio-hts 
of an interchange of dreams and fancies. All these re- 
collections now crowded into Herve's mind. Exhausted 
with fatigue, yet unable to sleep, he was reclinino- 
upon the stone table in the attitude of a statue upon 
a tombstone, looking far back into his youthful years, 
when he suddenly started up, for in the midst of the 



A TALE OF EA VENDEE. 9i3 

rocks the white form of a woman appeared gliding 
noiselessly from one stone to another, and moving 
towards him. Herve rose, putting his hand to his 
brow with the terrified feeling of a man who doubts his 
reason ; but the white vision had already touched him — • 
it was Bellah. 

" You I you here at this hour! You, my sister!" 
exclaimed he, seizing her hand. 

Mademoiselle de Kergant withdrew her hand. 

" Can Colonel Herve grant me a few minutes' in- 
terview?" said she, in a constrained voice. 

Herve, recalled to the realities of the present 
moment, how r ed and took off his hat. Then, seeing 
that Bellah's anxious eyes sought to penetrate the 
darkness around her — 

" Mademoiselle de Kergant may speak without 
fear," said he, " my men are all asleep yonder, beside 
those fires." 

She leaned her hand upon the rock near which 
Herve was standing, and seemed to reflect for a 
moment. 

"Sir," said she at last, "your government has 
broken, by a fresh crime, the treaties which bind us 
to it." 

" I was not aware of it, mademoiselle," said 
Herve. 

" I repeat it," returned Mademoiselle de Kergant. 

Herve bowed. 

" Sir," she continued, "have you conceived such 
an idea of your duty as to deem yourself engaged by 
the ties of honour to a perjured government? Are 
you resolved to bear your share of the blame of the 
most odious crimes which it may please your republic 
to commit?" 

"Mademoiselle de Kergant," answered Herve, 
"must permit me to reject the responsibility with 
which she would charge me. I answer only for myself; 
but for myself I can answer. I do not serve men, 



94 bellah; 

I serve principles. I deplore the madness which is 
caused by these principles: I would fain restrain it. 
I pity the martyrs made by them: I would gladly save 
them. But in spite of the blood and ruin with which 
these principles are darkened, they remain pure, and 
they remain worthy of the fidelity which I have sworn 
to them. As for this fresh crime, Mademoiselle de 
Kergant must permit me, before I condemn it, to 
have it confirmed by an impartial witness. It pains 
me to be compelled to use such language to a Avoman, 
but I am driven to it." 

" Do you doubt my word, sir?" said Bellah, with 
an accent of the bitterest disdain. 

"Yes! I do doubt your word ! " exclaimed Herve, 
in a deeper burst of passion; "I doubt your word! 
I doubt even your voice! I doubt your icy lips, and 
the strange words they speak! Who are you? What 
do you want with me? What is your errand here? 
Who sent you? Here! to this spot above all others! 
To choose this spot, that you might cpiite overwhelm 
me! By heaven! it is very bold — it is cruel beyond 
the thought of man!. Leave me!'' 

At the sudden outburst of this storm, the young 
girl's resolution seemed to give way, and in a low 
humble voice, like a chidden child's, she answered: 

"You need say no more, Herve; I am going." 

But instead of moving away, she bent over the 
stone altar, and pressed both her hands on her heart 
to still its beating. 

"Bellah," said Herve, gently, "pardon me; but 
you have filled up the measure of my suffering. I 
entreat you to go. You leave behind you a man who 
is incapable of bearing another pang; his cup is 
full. Your task is over: adieu!" 

" Oh ! not yet; not so, Herve ! I came, I hoped — ■ 
yes, I hoped in this spot at least to be protected by 
sweet recollections. But what may not the two long- 
years which divide us from them have been to you!" 



A TALE OF LA VENDKK. 95 

"They have been such," interrupted Herve, "that 
I would give them, and all which are yet to come, 
for one hour of the time which went before them.'' 

"Oh! a thousand thanks to heaven, if it is so! 
That time can return, Herve. You can again enter 
that family which belongs to us both — again find a 
father, sisters — again find us all, my brother ! You 
can! Will you?" 

" If I could only hope that it were one daypossible," 
said the young man, shaking his head sorrowfully. 

"That clay is come," said Bellah, quickly. "Lis- 
ten, Herve: the war is about to commence again. I 
could tell you, I could convince you, that our cause 
will triumph ; but that I know you do not heed. This 
cause is the cause of your fathers, of the unhappy, of 
heaven ! You have deceived yourself, Herve ; but 
now your eyes are open — they must be open. Oh' 
how we shall love you, Herve. It is our cherished 
dream — we all long for it. My father has already his 
ambitious designs for you. He is determined that 
justice shall be done to your talents, to your courage; 
and this justice you shall have, doubt it not. If 
you want proofs, Herve, take this." 

As she spoke, she drew a papier from her bosom, 
which she placed in the young man's hand; but, 
throwing it at his feet, he exclaimed — ■ 

" The justice that I should deserve would be the 
contempt of my friends, of my enemies, and your 
contempt likewise, Bellah." 

"Mine! you deceive yourself! I can never des- 
pise the man who nobly acknowledges that he has 
done wrong.'' 

"Yet you would be the first to do so, Bellah, and 
you would be right. Not a word more of this, I en- 
treat you ! " 

"Oh, heavens! and if I were to tell you, Herv6, 
that you cannot return among the republicans, that 
death awaits you there?" — 



96 bellah; 

" That is a thought familiar to my profession. 
Each moment of my life makes me more resigned to 
die." 

" Yes !'' answered the young girl, in a tone of strong 
conviction; "you are ready to die as a soldier, hut 
an execution, an ignominious death, a traitor's grave — 
say, are you prepared for that?" 

"A traitor's death?" repeated Herve: "that is im- 
possible." 

"You will be accused — -you will, indeed. Oh! do 
not disbelieve it." 

"But for what act of treason? May I not even 
know that?" 

"Alas! were my own father's life implicated as 
yours now is, I could not tell you." 

"So be it! My judges then will inform me." 

"Herve, your heart has become hard among these 
men of blood ! You sacrifice your life without reflect- 
ing that it does not belong to yourself alone. Poor 
Andree!" 

"If any misfortune were to overtake me," said 
Herve, turning away his head, "I know the heart I 
leave near hers." 

Bellah placed her hand on the young man's arm, 
with an impetuous movement. 

"And me?" she said. 

Bellah's despairing gesture, her low and confused 
accent, gave such an expression to her words that 
ITerve was touched to the depths of his heart. With a 
trembling grasp he took the hand which Mademoiselle 
do Kergant gave him, and looking at her passionately, 
as she stood before him, her eyes cast to the ground, 
and her bosom heaving — 

"Bellah!" said he, "I love you ardently. My life, 
for these last two years, has not numbered a single 
minute on which the trace of this love has not 
been impressed. All else has been but a vain attempt 
to escape this thought ; but, whether I deceive 



A TALE OF LA VENDEE. 97 

myself or not, I can see no honour for me out of the 
path of duty I have chosen, and I cannot live dis- 
honoured even with you — above all, with you." 

As he finished speaking, Mademoiselle de Kergant's 
head sank upon her breast. 

"And I have nothing more that I can say to him,'' 
she murmured; "nothing! Herve," continued she, 
in a broken voice, " I feel that your resolution is irre- 
vocable: and is this then our last, our eternal fare- 
well; and is it here, tog, that we must part ? We shall 
never behold each other more ! All is over ! All is 
over ! May heaven forgive me that I spoke for my- 
self ! I have mixed up with my task the feelings of a 
woman's wretched heart! I thought to do well! 
Unhappy girl! because nothing in the world could 
have cost me so much. I thought to do well, and 
shame alone — ■" 

" Bellah ! dear Bellah ! you rend my heart ! Fare- 
well!" 

"Farewell, then," cried she, collecting all her 
courage. "Farewell! man without a heart to re- 
member — -without a soul — without pity. My duty 
shall make me as implacable as yourself. Farewell ! " 

And she hastened away, but with so light a tread 
that her departure, like her arrival, seemed only the 
silent vision of a dream. 

The moment she had disappeared along one of the 
paths which wound down the side of the knoll, Pelven 
was hastening to the edge of the plateau, to snatch the 
last moments of a happiness which he was about to 
part with for ever, when he thought he heard the ac- 
cents of a man's voice mingling with that of Bellah, 
The idea that Mademoiselle de Kergant had had an 
accomplice in her attempt, and that there had been a 
diplomatic arrangement in it, darted across Herve's 
mind with a painful emotion. Taking a more 
direct way, he descended a few steps with precaution, 
and perceived at Bellah's side a man of an ele- 

o 



98 BEiLXAH ; 

gant figure, elastic step^ and energetic and youthful 
gestures. Mademoiselle de Kergant seemed, from 
time to time, to be interrupting by short objections the 
animated speech of her companion, which now rose to 
the most sonorous modulations, now sank to a tone 
of the most intimate confidence. When they readied 
the foot of the mount, Herve, thanks to his intimate 
knowledge of the country, was able to follow them 
across the fields without being discovered. He 
endeavoured to recall to his mind the graceful figure 
of the unknown, and the peculiar tones of his voice, 
in order if possible to identify a man he already hated 
• — but all in vain. 

When they were about a hundred yards from the 
chateau, the unknown stopped suddenly, pronounced 
a few vehement words, and abruptly seized the 
arm and hand of Mademoiselle de Kergant. Herve, 
with a muttered exclamation of rage, sprang from 
the hedge where he was concealed, and was rushing 
towards the spot where they stood, when an unex- 
pected incident arrested his steps. Mademoiselle de 
Kergant had disengaged her arm, and took in her 
turn the hand of her bold cavalier, pressing her 
lips upon it and bending almost to the ground; then 
she hastened on towards the castle, slowly followed 
by the individual so extraordinarily favoured. 

Herve, now abandoning all concealment, and 
governed only by an irresistible passion, advanced 
rapidly. 

"Hallo! sir! stop if you please!" he exclaimed, 
in a very distinct though low voice. 

The unknown turned. "Who goes there?" said 
he; "who calls me?" 

" It is I, sir; be so kind as to wait for a few 
seconds," ssaid the young colonel, quickening his 
steps. 

"That infernal officer again !" muttered the un- 
known. And shrugging his shoulders with vexation, 



A TALK OF LA VENDEE. 99 

he hastened on with a step so quick that Herve, 
unable to follow him into the enclosure of the chateau, 
was obliged to give up all hope of any more satis- 
factory interview. 

••No," said the young man,- as he retraced his 
steps to the, mount; " never did the wildest dreams 
conjure up such frightful images! Bellah, the proud, 
the haughty, on her knees before a man — receiving, 
nay, giving a caress — and that, when her lips were 
still burning with the confession of love made to 
another ! At least, heaven be thanked, I am now 
free!" and the young man's hand convulsively 
searched in his breast for the white feather, that 
now hateful token of a happier moment, and crushing 
it with violence, he scattered it in the air. 

After this hasty movement, Colonel Herve ap- 
proached the half-extinguished fires of the bivouac, 
and lay down a few steps from Francis. The exhaus- 
tion of this day of fatigue and anxiety ended by 
overpowering the agitation of his mind, and the 
punctual Bruidoux was compelled at the first dawn of 
day to awaken him out of a profound slumber, and 
the troop set out on their homeward march. A few 
moments after the party had left the mount, Andree 
arrived out of breath on the summit, glanced across 
the plateau, and seeing it deserted, gave a piercing 
cry of grief; then sinking to the ground, she sobbed 
for some time, her head buried in her hands. 



100 beixah; 



CHAPTER VII. 



"The republic, madam, cannot loge him, however careless she 
may be in preserving him." — -Voiturb's Letters. 



The chief division of the republican army was then 
quartered at Vitre, on the limits of the departments 
of the He and Vilaine, and of Mayenne. The general- 
in-chief occupied a habitation of an humble appear- 
ance, between Rennes and A'itre, something between a 
manor-house and a farm, and which had no other 
claim to receive such a guest but its retired and soli- 
tary position. We beg our reader to transport him- 
self to the court-yard of this dwelling, informing 
him, at the same time, that four days have elapsed 
since the last mentioned scenes of our story took 
place. 

It was one o'clock. In the centre of the plot of 
ground enclosed by walls which extended before the 
principal front of the building, groups of soldiers, 
dressed in various uniforms, were conversing or amus- 
ing themselves with a kind of freedom mingled with 
reserve which betrayed that their superior's eye was 
upon them. The most active were employed in fur- 
bishing their weapons and horses' bits in the sun, the 
most thoughtful were stretched on the ground in 
various and often totally opposite attitudes, some 
appearing to follow the course of the clouds in their 
varying combinations, others to devote themselves to 
botanical investigations. One characteristic scene 



A TALE OF LA VENDEE. 101 

in this picture was presented by two grenadiers with 
grizzled moustaches, who, having placed a long plank 
across the fallen trunk of a tree, were see-sawing in 
the gravest silence, as if the safety of the whole bri- 
gade depended upon this important business being 
carried on. A young officer who was crossing the 
court-yard at that moment with papers in his hand, 
directed his steps towards this group. 

"Well, Mayencais," said he, "has not Colonel 
Pelven returned yet?" 

" Not yet," answered Mayencais, who was then at 
the highest pitch of ascension. 

" Is there no news of him?" 

"None," said Mayencais, majestically descending 
to the bottom of the abyss. 

"Take care you don't get a fall, old porcupine," 
returned the young man, a little offended at the laconic 
style with which he was answered, and, pushing the 
fragile mechanism of Mayencais's game with his foot, 
the board yielded to this impulsion, turned round of 
itself, and then glided down upon the grass with its 
occupiers, to the great amusement of the spectators. 

While the two old campaigners were employing all 
their faculties with the most imperturbable gravity in 
replacing their plaything on its point of equilibrium, 
the Sentinel stationed on the outside of a large wicket- 
gate which gave access to the country, challenged, 
and was answered by a rude abrupt voice. The 
sentinel presented arms, and immediately afterwards 
five horsemen, their dresses in disorder, and stained 
with flakes of foam, entered noisily into the court. 
Four of them wore the uniform of the republican 
hussars, the fifth, who had entered the first, appeared 
not to belong to the army; he wore no other distinc- 
tive signs but a tri-coloured plume and sash. The 
sudden silence which succeeded to the tumult of mili- 
tary recreation in the court of the manor-house, and 
the sort of timidity with which the name of the new 



102 BELLAH ; 

comer was whispered, showed that to the greatest 
number of those present he was an old acquaintance, 
and an acquaintance who was beheld with more re- 
spect than pleasure. It must he confessed, that 
the individual who received the equivocal homage of 
this reception, justified it completely, in addition to 
any other claims which he might have had, by the 
ascetic severity of his features, and the peculiar and 
implacable expression of his eyes. 

Throwing his horse's bridle to a soldier, he rapidly 
crossed the space between the gate and the manor- 
house, ascended the interior stair-case, and quickly 
reached an ante-chamber, before which two sentinels 
were mounting guard. Pushing away with a gesture 
of extreme pre-occupation one of the soldiers who, 
although giving him the military salute, yet seemed 
to hesitate whether he should admit him, he opened 
a double door, advanced into the adjoining apartment, 
and seemed to have discovered at last what he had 
been seeking with so much haste and so little cere- 
mony. 

He found himself in the presence of a man of a 
tall elegant figure, his features glowing with masculine 
beauty united to the brilliancy of youth. [This per- 
sonage wore a military dress, embroidered on the 
facings and collar with gold oak leaves; a tri-coloured 
sash and a sabre were- lying before him on the corner 
of a table. He rose at this sudden interruption, then 
seating himself again with a rather haughty non- 
chalance: — 

" You treat me as a friend, citizen representative, " 
said he, dryly. 

" It is a bad habit which I have acquired, citizen 
general. But if it is needful, I offer an apology. 
I offer an apology, I say, not being willing to invoke 
upon so slight an occasion the unlimited powers with 
which the Convention and the interests of the Republic 
have armed me." 



A TALE OP LA VENDEE. 103 

" Your powers! the Republic!" interrupted the 
young- general with impetuosity. " There is only one 
republic in the world, and that is the masked republic 
of Venice, which has ever conferred powers similar 
to those which you arrogate to yourself! I must 
remind you, citizen commissary, that there is a limit 
beyond which the most legitimate superintendence 
exceeds its objects and changes its nature!" 

" Have you come to this?" said the representative, 
in a slow hollow voice. " Explain yourself, citizen: 
if you only intend to put a personal affront on me, 
I am not one of those who can be deterred from 
performing their duty to the public by insult; but if 
yon pretend to place limits to the power of the 
Convention, say so. If the insult and the menace, I 
repeat, arc addressed to the Convention, speak out; 
it is well that I should be aware of it before I speak 
another word." 

The contracted brow of the general, and the spas- 
modic movement of his lips, showed that it was not 
without a painful effort that he endured the yoke laid 
upon his victorious neck by the heavy hand of the 
conventionalist. At last he rose, and answered with 
a constrained smile: — 

" I should prefer, I confess, like the charcoal- 
burner, to be master in my own house. How- 
ever, if an involuntary, perhaps excusable feeling, 
has caused me to fail in the respect which 1 owe to 
the Convention, and to all those invested with its 
sovereign power, I entreat your pardon. You seem 
to have had a long journey, citizen; do you bring me 
any orders?" 

" jSo; but news." 

" And of what kind?" 

" I should say good, if I were to judge from my 
own feelings of satisfaction, for they confirm all my 
predictions, they justify all my warnings, so neglected 
and despised. You have great talents, citizen general, 



104 bellah; 

but you are young. Periods of revolution are not times 
for chivalrous illusion. Civic crowns are not woven by 
the hands of women. Your mind is great, I repeat 
it, but it is too open to the deceitful flattery of popu- 
larity. He who puts his hand to the work of the 
revolution must be content to find his name abhorred, 
so that his work be good. You would not listen to 
me; you would treat when you should have fought, 
heal when you should have amputated. I told you 
then that all your conciliatory speeches, all your con- 
cessions, and all your favours, were only seeds of in- 
gratitude and treason. Now I inform you that the 
crop is ripe." 

" You mean, I presume," said the young general, 
who had succeeded with difficulty iu restraining his 
impatience during the tirade of the gloomy republi- 
can, " you mean that the pacification is broken?" 

" Openly and audaciously." 

" And am I accused of this infraction, citizen re- 
presentative? Dare they lay the blame upon the 
system of moderation and humanity which I have in- 
troduced into this unhappy war? Have I been se- 
conded? Have I been even obeyed? Was it by my 
commands that, in spite of the treaties, the ci-devant 
counts of Tristan and Geslin were assassinated? 
Did I order the head of Bois-Hardy to be carried about 
the country, to bear witness to the consequences which 
were to follow my words of peace? These crimes, 
in spite of all my endeavours, remain unpunished. 
These brigands, as we call them, have nevertheless 
red blood in their veins, and now they prove it I So 
the Chouans are up in arms, you say?'' 

" The country is in a flame, from Lower Maine to 
the extremity of Brittany. Plu-oigner is in the hands 
of the brigands. They have surprised one of our cor- 
vettes in the port of Vannes; Duhesme has been 
beaten at Plelan; Humbert at Camors. Our maga- 
zines at Pont-du-Buis in Finisterre are captured; our 



A TALE OF LA VENDEE. 105 

cantonments throughout the Morbihan taken and de- 
stroyed." 

"Is that all?" asked the general, who affected 
to hear this recital of disasters with as much indif- 
ference as the representative had pleasure in mak- 
ing it. 

" No, it is not all I A Bourbon is at the head of the 
rebels." 

" What do you say? — that is impossible!'' ex- 
claimed the young republican chief, instantly chang- 
ing the careless air under which he had till then con- 
cealed his wounded pride. " That would indeed be 
terrible!" added he, in a lower voice. 

" It is certain: Duhesme and Humbert saw him: 
Humbert even spoke to him during the fight. They 
say it is the ci-devant Count d'Artois, a brother of 
Capet's." 

"The Count d'Artois! impossible!'' repeated the 
general, whose animated gestures betrayed the agita- 
tion of his mind. " A moment ago, just before you 
entered, I had been informed of the arrival of his 
aide-de-camp, the ci-devant Marquis de la Riviere, at 
Charette's quarters; but of the prince's arrival, no- 
thing — he had not left England. And by what means 
— where—and at what fatal moment did he put his 
foot in Brittany?" 

" It is precisely upon this head, citizen general, 
that I desire your advice. The strict guard main- 
tained upon all points of the coast, renders it impos- 
sible to explain the appearance of the ci-devant prince 
except on the most painful suppositions. The word 
' treason' has been pronounced." 

The general, abandoning his thoughtful attitude, 
drew himself up with vivacity, and, exchanging a glance 
of fire with the hard cold look of the conventionalist, 
he repeated in a voice trembling with emotion: — 

" The word ' treason' has been pronounced? — ■ 
against whom?" 



106 BELLAH ; 

"You wilfully mistake the meaning of my words, 
citizen general; no one thinks of suspecting you." 

" And why should they not ? " answered the young 
man bitterly. " Ought I not to have been prepared 
for such an accusation from the day on which I at- 
tempted to make this war less unworthy of a civilized 
age and people ? I was to fight," continued he, walk- 
ing hastily up and clown the room, " to fight — to 
uproot — to destroy I Have I then an army or a for- 
tified place before me ? No ! I hare a people. Hurl 
them into the ocean if you can, and pass the plough- 
share over half France! As for me, I will not at- 
tempt such atrocious madness. If that is treason, let 
it be so. You may suspect me, you may denounce me — 
I care not! I am weary of this war of savages, in which 
I shall some day or other perish ignominiously behind 
a hedge, like a robber chief. Let them take this 
sword from me — I consent to it — I demand it. Let 
them send me hack to begin my career again on fair 
fields of battle, where the wounded are not massacred, 
where the dead are not mutilated!" 

" You are losing your temper, citizen general, and 
nevertheless you will have need of it to hear what I 
have still to acquaint vou with. I told you there was 
no suspicion against you; I repeat it: but you are 
reproached with giving your confidence with too great 
facility, with lavishing your friendship upon those 
who are suspected. I speak of one of your officers: 
of him to whom you grant the largest share of your 
confidence; of the ci-devant Count do Pelven.'' 

" Colonel Pelven, citizen representative, has made 
more sacrifices for the Republic than either you or I 
have. In leaving him for these two years in the 
humble rank which he occupies, a crying injustice has 
been done him, and one which I shall not fail to 
repair.'' 

" You must be speedy then, unless you wish to be 
forestalled by the Bourbon, who, if he is not ungrate- 



A TALE OP LA VENDEE. 107 

ful, owes a high reward to the pure patriot who hastened 
to receive him at his landing, and who has escorted 
him to the very centre of his army of brigands.'' 

" Have yon any proofs of what you affirm, citizen 
commissar)'?" 

" Here," said the conventionalist, taking a letter 
from his portfolio, " here is what one of our agents 
in England writes me word. You will judge yourself 
if these informations, coupled with the facts with 
which you are already acquainted, do not afford suffi- 
cient proof. This letter, unfortunately, did not arrive 
until ten days after the catastrophe had taken place 
which it was intended to avert. Listen : — > 

" ' The English frigate, Loyalty, is preparing to land 
a Bourbon in Brittany, said to be the Duke d'En- 
ghien, Conde's son, or the Count d'Artois: the latter 
is the most probable. He travels disguised as a 
woman in the suite of the daughter and sister of the 
ci-devant Kergant, who have obtained leave of resi- 
dence through the influence of the ci-devant Pelven, 
a republican officer high in the confidence of the 
general-in-chief. They reckon upon Pelven's conni- 
vance to protect the landing, which will take place 
some day next decade, on the south coast of Finisterre. 
The whole of the west, Normandy included this time, 
only waits for the appearance of this chief, so often 
promised in vain, to rise in a body.' " 

The general remained as if transfixed with surprise, 
while this letter was being read. 

" Is it not true? is it not as plain as day?" added 
the representative, showing him the letter. 

The young man read it over hastily himself, a sort 
of sob escaped from his breast; then sinking clown upon 
the sofa, he remained for some time, his brow shaded 
with his hand, absorbed in painful thought. 

The single witness of this anguish was not one 



108 bellah; 

from whom sympathy could be expected for any 
human weakness, however generous the cause of that 
weakness might be; a secret feeling of triumph, on 
the contrary, might have been detected in the doubtful 
look with which he observed the distress of the young 
republican general. 

" That which will surprise you," resumed he, " is 
the degree of audacity of your former friend. Instead 
of wisely remaining with him whom he has served so 
well, I am assured that he is returning to you, to 
complete by a system of spying what he has so well 
begun by treachery." 

" Spy! Pelven!" murmured the general, as if the 
union of those two words was an inexplicable enigma. 

" Above all, citizen general," continued the con- 
ventionalist, "justice must be done." 

The general delayed replying for some instants; 
then at last raising his head, as if he had been me- 
ditating deeply — 

"It is well," said he, "citizen representative of 
the people. Justice will be done." 

" I am going to wait for the return of this Pelven; 
you will give me a sufficient escort to enable me to 
conduct him to Rennes, where I will interrogate him 
before my colleagues. After that, he will be con- 
demned by the revolutionary tribunal." 

" I tell _you, citizen, justice shall be clone; you 
understand me." 

" Not in the least," answered the representative, with 
great surprise. "Am I to understand that you re- 
fuse to deliver up this great culprit to the vengeance 
of the nation?" 

" I hold sufficient power myself from the nation 
to be able both to serve and to avenge it ! I have no 
need to ask assistance from any one." 

The general spoke in such a calm, decided manner, 
that he at last succeeded in disturbing the sang-froid 
of the conventionalist. 



A T.VI,P, OF LA VENDEE. 109 

"Young man!" exclaimed he, with violence, "I 
have borne much from you, much more than my dis- 
position and my duty might have led you to expect; 
but this passes all measure, and all patience! Do 
you forget who I am? do you forget that I have only to 
open this window, and speak two words, to have your 
epaulettes torn from your shoulders by your own 
grenadiers?" 

"Try," said the general, who having once taken 
his resolution, appeared pleased with his novel and 
dangerous independence. 

" This is stark madness!" muttered the represen- 
tative, quite capable in fact of viewing as an act 
devoid of all reason such a defiance flung at his 
terrible power. 

<: It is merely," continued the general, in the same 
perfectly calm tone, "it is merely an experiment that 
I am making. There is one too many of us, 
citizen, in the confidence of the nation. I desire to 
know which of the two it is. The occasion presents 
itself, and I seize it. Since this war, universal and 
terrible, has burst out afresh, I shall not attempt 
to extinguish it if this chain of iron with which you 
bind me is not first taken off — -if I am again to 
have every movement controlled by an insulting 
inspection, my designs suspected by fanaticism, my 
plans opposed by ignorance." 

" Is it so?" returned the conventionalist. "Well, 
then, woe to you, or if not — if not, woe to the 
Republic!" 

"The Republic!" answered the young man, his 
lofty brow lighted up with enthusiasm, "the 
Republic is my parent! I owe her everything, I love 
her passionately — I have proved it, and by the will of 
heaven, I will prove it again. But my Republic is 
not your Republic. The image which is enthroned 
in my heart is not that which you have reared 
side by side with the scaffold in our terrified towns! 



110 BELL All; 

I would I could, at the cost of my life, tear from 
history the page of mourning, the page of blood, 
which you have attached to that sacred name. 
Future generations will not forgive you for rendering 
that great name of Republic fatal in the recollection 
of the world. Let me finish; you have nothing to 
teach me; I know with what arguments you are 
accustomed to support your fearful opinions. I do 
not pretend to dispute with you: but only question 
my soldiers, ask them if they needed the sinister 
reports with which you have filled the country to 
teach them to conquer? And as for our enemies in 
the interior, before your cruelties had centupled their 
number, the renown of our victories would have sufficed 
to bring them to submission. Inhumanity is not 
strength, hatred is not justice, the Republic is not 
terror. I have confessed my faith under the axe 
of your all-powerful friends, I have been the inhabi- 
tant of their dungeons; but if I only quitted those 
dungeons to submit to the tyranny of the lowest 
among them, let those doors be re-opened! Now 
depart, denounce me if you will; the committee shall 
judge between us: but trust me, citizen, make no 
imprudent trial of your strength; you can understand 
that my patience, like yours, is at an end, and no one 
with impunity shall tempt my army to mutiny under 
my eyes. Farewell!" 

During this impetuous outbreak of a storm which 
had been long gathering, and was with difficulty re- 
strained in the breast of the young general-in-rhief, the 
face of the conventionalist became gradually purple, 
and then almost immediately of a livid paleness. His 
trembling lips seemed as if they were unable to express 
the passion which raged in his breast. He coidd only 
answer the menacing farewell of his rival by a muttered 
ejaculation, and hastily quitted the room with a gesture 
of implacable resentment. 

But the time was already past when a signal from 



A TALE OF LA VKNDEE. Ill 

such a hand was able to bring glory and power, as 
well as worth and beauty, to the axe of the execu- 
tioner; and in the scale of the Committee of Public 
Safety the talents and services of the conqueror of 
Wissembourg would now have more weight than the 
fierce puritanism and the barbarous virtues of this 
survivor of Thermidor. 



112 



CHAPTER VIII. 

" Cette gloire etait due aux manes d'un tel homme, 
D'emporter avec eux la liberte de Rome." — Cinn a. 

Freed from the presence of the conventionalist, the 
general remained for some minutes in the same place, 
his head bent, and his gaze fixed on the ground. 
Then, with the gesture of one who abandons himself re- 
solutely to the consequences of an irrevocable action, 
and who passes to another set of ideas, he rose and ap- 
proached a window which looked upon the court. It 
would appear that he did not perceive what he sought, 
for he began to walk impatiently across the room, 
stopping from time to time at the window, or before 
a clock placed on a console. At intervals the thoughts 
which agitated his breast escaped involuntarily from 
his lips. 

" What a deception!" he murmured. " Such are 
men! a rude lesson, and an unexpected one! His dupe 
— that is the word — his tool, for so long a time, so 
confidingly. And what misery he has caused! — 'how 
much blood ! An insult to me ! — a public crime ! Ah ! 
miserable wretch!" 

The noise of a sharp knock at the door interrupted 
the general. On permission being given to enter, the 
door opened, and the distinguished-looking, high-bred 
figure of Colonel Herve de Pelven appeared before 
him. 

The general slowly approached him whom an hour 
before he had called his friend, and fixed his eyes on 
his face with a singular expression of curiosity, as if 
he was endeavouring to discover in those well known 



A TALE OK LA VENDEE. 113 

features some secret sign, some hideous trace, till then 
unperceived. Abruptly ending his examination by 
an expressive shrug of the shoulders, he half seated 
himself upon the corner of the table, where his sabre 
was lying, still examining Herve's countenance with 
a searching look. 

"Where is Francis?" said he, at last. 

This question was not sufficient to arouse Pelven 
from the state of mute astonishment into which he had 
been thrown by the inexplicable reception of the 
general-in-chief. 

" I ask you, where is Francis?" repeated Hoche, 
raising his voice; " what have you done with him?" 

" General," said the young colonel, " Francis is 
below in the court-yard. We arrived together." 

"Ah! Well, tell me, Monsieur de Pelven, you 
have succeeded as you could have wished, have you 
not?" 

" Yes, general," answered Herve dryly, his pride 
by degrees becoming offended at this treatment and 
this language, so different from the familiar cordiality 
with which he had been accustomed to be received. 

" That is fortunate for you, as well as for me, sir." 

" I am grieved that I cannot understand you, 
general." 

" Ha! Tell me, does the Chouan seed sprout in the 
country?" 

" Everything, citizen general, that I have seen, is 
threatening, and announces a speedy rising. We even 
thought we heard cannon yesterday and last night." 

" Really! you have made a dangerous campaign, 
and one which shall not go without its due reward, if 
there is still any justice left in the world; but 1 must 
first, I suppose, compliment you on your marvellous 
talent in the line which you have had the good taste 
to select. I must confess, Monsieur de Pelven, that 
never did a mask of infamy resemble so well the 
countenance of an honest man." 



114 bei/lah; 

A deep flush rose to the cheeks and brow of the 
young colonel at these words, but this was the only 
mark of emotion which his command over himself did 
not enable him entirely to repress. 

" I have not failed to perceive from the first," said 
he, "that I am looked upon here as a criminal, I 
had been foretold it; but I thought I might have 
expected from General Hoche that the accusation 
would have preceded the insult." 

Although, when on the point of being unmasked, 
hypocrisy finds at times, in the moment of peril, 
looks and tone of truthfulness, Herve's countenance 
and the firmness of his voice shook, in some degree, 
the general's conviction of his guilt; but, before he 
could reply, his attention was attracted by the tramp- 
ling of horses in the. court-yard, followed by a con- 
fused sound of voices. A few seconds afterwards 
Lieutenant Francis entered with an anxious look, 
bearing a packet of letters. 

"Pardon me, general," said he, "these are des- 
patches just arrived by two dragoons from Humbert's 
and Duhesme's divisions. It seems the fire is getting 
hot down yonder." 

Hoche laid his hand affectionately on the .young 
lieutenant's shoulder, and then opened the despatches 
hastily, and began to read them, often interrupting 
himself with angry exclamations; till, suddenly throw- 
ing them violently on the floor, and addressing Francis 
in a tone which betrayed his ill-restrained fury: — 

"My boy," said he, "you are about to take an 
important step in the experience of life. Here is M. 
de Pelven, our mutual friend; look at him well, and 
remember for the rest of your days that under this 
mask, which bore the outward stamp of loyalty, was 
concealed the soul of a spy and a traitor. ' ' 

"They lied who told you so, general," said Herve, 
calmly; while the young lieutenant uttered a cry of 
surprise and incredulity. 



A TALE OP I.A VEXHEE. 115 

"I doubted till conviction flashed into my mind, " 
replied Hoche; "but it was an unpardonable piece of 
negligence, Monsieur de 1'elven, when you knew that 
we too have our spies, to leave behind you such 
a damning proof as this." 

And he placed before the eyes of the two officers 
a crumpled piece of paper spotted with mud, on which 
was written these words: — • 

" Safe Conduct to the Count Herve de Pelven, 
Marechal de Camp in the royal catholic army. 

"Signed. Charette." 

Herve looked at the young lieutenant, and mur- 
mured the name of "Bellah." 

" This safe conduct,'' continued the general, "was 
found by one of our secret agents on the mount qf 
Kergant, where I am informed you passed a night. 
I have other proofs, but this is sufficient. I must 
ask you now, sir, whether you have anything to say 
to save your life, for I warn you it is in great danger. 
Give up your sword, if you please." 

Herve unbuckled his sabre, and handed it to Fran- 
cis, who received it with a trembling hand. 

"General," said the young colonel, "before heaven 
and on my honour, I am not guilty. I yield to appear- 
ances against which I can only oppose my word. This 
safe-conduct is authentic, but I never accepted it. I 
may add also that these men, who are represented $s 
my friends, attempted my life a few days ago." 

"Did they wound you?" asked Hoche, eagerly. 
" Can you show me the trace of the wound?" 

"There is none, unfortunately." 

"But, general,'' cried Francis, "I was there, I saw 
it: they knocked the colonel down.'' 

"With kind precaution, as it seems," said the 
general, who had re-assumed an ominous air of calm- 
ness. "Enough, Francis. You, M. de Pelven, are 
not a child, and you well know what is likely to be 



11G BELLAII; 

the conclusion of such an affair. Do you wish that 
all shall be concluded between us two, or sliall I call 
a council." 

"I wish for no other judge but yourself, general." 
"Certainly you could have none who has been 
more partial to you. You have strangely deceived 
me, Pelven — cruelly, I may say. After all there is a 
kind of grandeur in the part you have played, but it 
is not the grandeur that I should have sought. 
Assuredly, sir," continued he, the tones of his voice 
becoming 1 softer and almost mournful in their charac- 

... n 

ter, "I was far from imagining that our relations of 
esteem and friendship should end thus. It is not 
without the deepest grief — •" 

The general, interrupted by the sobs Avhich poor 
Francis had no longer power to restrain, stopped 
abruptly. He opened the door, and calling one of 
the soldiers who was mounting guard in the ante- 
chamber — 

"Citizen Pelven,'' said he, "is your prisoner; you 
shall answer for him. Lieutenant Francis, wait for 
me in the adjoining apartment." 

The young lieutenant cast a supplicating look at 
his protector, but an imperious sign was the only an- 
swer he received, and he took refuge in the apart- 
ment pointed out to him with despairing haste. 

"Monsieur Pelven,'' the general then said, "it was 
the wish of some that you should be taken to prison, 
and from thence you well know where. I thought 
that, in spite of all that has happened, you would like 
better to die the death of a soldier." 

"I thank you, general," said Herve. 

"You. have a quarter of an hour before you, sir." 

Hoche turned away abruptly as lie finished speak- 
ing, and closing the door behind him, rejoined Francis 
in the ante-chamber. Here an old non-commissioned 
officer was on duty, his hand respectfully raised to 
his foraging cap: the general called him. 



A TAJ.E OF LA VENDEE. 117 

" Take fifteen grenadiers,'' said he, "to the field on 
the left of the farm; let them load their muskets 
and wait for the man whom I shall send to them for 
execution." 

Then leading his young aide-de-camp away by the 
arm, he conducted him to a room which opened on the 
other side of the stair-case. 

It may have been observed with surprise that there 
had not been sufficient explanation between the judge 
and the accused to make the latter acquainted with 
the nature and extent of the crime with which he was 
charged; but, on the one hand, the general believed 
that he could inform Pelven of nothing new on that 
head, and on the other, Pelven had only seen in what 
happened the necessary consequence of the man- 
oeuvres which had had for their object the attaching 
him to the royalist cause, and exposing him to the 
suspicions of his own party. These were more than 
sufficient, in those times, to justify a capital punish- 
ment. And thus both the predictions of Mademoi- 
selle de Kergant on the Rocky Mount, and all the 
vague apprehensions which the incidents of his un- 
happy expedition had raised in the mind of the un- 
fortunate officer, were but too well verified. 

Herve, left alone in charge of the sentinel, endea- 
voured to conquer those instinctive terrors — that whirl 
of ideas and feelings — which overcome every human 
being upon the near and foreseen approach of dissolu- 
tion. In spite of himself, his eye remained fixed upon 
the hands of the clock, and something like the breath 
of another world seemed to pass over his face and 
cover it as with a mist. Passing his hand across his 
brow, the young man rapidly paced the room, then 
stopped and drew a long breath, as if he felt himself 
conqueror in the awful struggle he had undergone. 
He then sat down, and wrote a few hasty lines to his 
sister. Ten minutes passed and he was still plunged 
in all the bitterness of their last farewell, when a 



118 bellah; 

slight noise made him turn his head towards the 
door, and he met the eye of Hoche. 

" Pardon me, sir, if I disturb you," said the 
general, still keeping his eyes attentively fixed upon 
the young man ; ' ' but in the state in which things now 
are, it must be indifferent to you whether you tell me, 
and I am anxious to know, the precise name of the 
Bourbon who landed under the disguise of a woman, 
in the company of your relations, and under your 
good guidance." 

At this question, such perfect bewilderment clouded 
Herve's visually so penetrating eyes, such sincere 
astonishment was expressed by his half-open lips, 
that the general could not repress a faint smile. 

" I was sure of it, general! I would have bet my 
head on it twenty times over! Down with Jacobins 
and informers !" cried Francis, springing madly into 
the room. 

" Get you gone!" said Hoche, with an impatience 
which the young aide-de-camp did not think it needful 
to obey. "It seems, Monsieur Pelven," continued the 
general, "that you did not think I was so well in- 
formed?" 

" He is as innocent as a child, general," repeated 
Francis, with increasing delight. 

" Really, general, 1 ' stammered out Herve, " I do 
not in the least know — I understand nothing what- 
ever of what you are saying." 

A more open, cheerful smile passed over the fine 
features of the young general-in-chief. 

" Long live the Republic!" cried Francis, throwing 
himself on Herve's neck in a fit of affectionate en- 
thusiasm. 

"You see, colonel," said Hoche, " that Mi'. Francis 
has already restored you to his esteem. But you will 
excuse me if I am not quite so prompt. In my eyes 
you are still guilty, at least of extreme imprudence. 
The truth is, that, thanks to you, we have a Bourbon 



A TALE OF LA VENDEE. 119 

on our shoiilders. I need not enumerate the misfor- 
tunes which such an event brings with it; but how 
am I to understand that the events which todk place 
oil your journey did not awaken your suspicions more 
seriously?" 

One point suddenly made clear in a plot of which 
we have been the dupe, is often sufficient to show us 
all the mysteries thereof; so Herve's memory recalled 
instantaneously all the equivocal circumstances of his 
campaign, the extreme reserve of the Scotchwoman, 
the scenes in the Chateau de la Groac'h, Bellah's 
language and strange perseverance on the Rocky 
Mount, and, lastly, the mysterious character of the in- 
dividual who had followed Mademoiselle de Kergant in 
her nocturnal excursion. This last recollection struck 
the deepest pang into the young man's wounded heart. 

" General," said he, " I have been most shame- 
fully tricked and deceived. My sister is a child, who 
thought she was taking a part in an excellent jest. 
As for the others — -" Colonel Pelven completed the 
sentence by a slow and prolonged movement of his 
head, which indicated bitter resentment. 

The general had moved to the window, and remained 
there for some moments, his eyes fixed upon empty 
space, and his brows contracted, as if a prey to painful 
irresolution. Then turning suddenly round — 

"Suppose," said he, "that I were to take upon 
myself to restore you to liberty, what use would you 
make of it? for I cannot think of employing you in 
the service, at least for the present. Come, what 
would you do?" 

" I should go straight to the Chouans, straight to 
the prince's quarters, since a prince there id." 

" Are you mad ?" 

'• I should resume my name and title," coiitinued 
the young man, with warmth, "for I have need of the 
privileges they give me to be able to say to the hero 
of the farce which has been played at my expense: 



120 beixah; 

' Sir, or my lord, I care not which, here is a gentle- 
man like yourself, who demands satisfaction for the 
peril to which you have exposed not his life alone, but 
his honour, by your disloyal action." 

" And his love as well," added the general, with 
friendly animation. " By my faith, Herve, if this 
is a folly, it pleases me. I am not born a gentleman ; 
far from it, as you know; but I dare swear I should 
have become one in the time when to be so required 
only the taste for adventures, and a few grains of auda- 
city in the heart. Nevertheless, this project is abso- 
lutely unreasonable, and I can say nothing in its 
favour, but that I should do exactly the same in your 
place. But whatever may happen, you will leave com- 
panions behind you who will attack the rascal, whether 
it be to liberate or to revenge you. Is not that so, 
Francis ?" 

" I shall go with him," said Francis, "to see the 
court ladies." 

" You will wait for me, sir. Pelven, take your 
sword again; but I counsel you to lay aside your uni- 
form. You must also provide yourself with this un- 
happy safe-conduct, or otherwise you would never be 
able to make your way to these gentlemen, who are 
in force and under arms in all the country round. 
And stay,'' continued the general, hastily writing a 
few words upon a small piece of paper, " hide that in 
the lining of your clothes, so that you may be as well 
prepared with respect to the republicans." 

" General, your goodness overwhelms me." 

" I wish you to forgot that wretched quarter of an 
hour, Pelven. Go now, and may heaven protect you! 
I hope you part with me without rancour." 

Herve took the hand in his which the general 
offered him, and pressed it warmly. 

" Adieu, general 1" said he; "I am about to pur- 
chase the right to see you again, and to continue to 
serve you." 



A TALK OF T,A VENDEE. 121 

" Not me, Pelven ; never me, but France and the 
Republic: the strong, generous, patient Republic." 

" That is what I mean," said Herve. He then 
bowed with affectionate politeness, and left the room, 
accompanied by Francis. A few moments afterwards, 
Pelven and the young lieutenant were galloping in 
the direction of llennes. After riding a couple of 
leagues, Herve was to take a cross road, to avoid the 
town, which might prove dangerous to him. There the 
two young friends separated, about two hours before 
sunset: one to return to the general-in-chief, the 
other to encounter all the new dangers which he was 
impelled to run, against all the counsels of prudence, 
by the fiery feelings both of an insulted man and of a 
jealous lover. 



122 bellaii; 



CHAPTER IX. 

'•Bois ton sang, Beaumanoir; ta soif se passera." — Old Ballad. 

The next clay, at the same late hour, Colonel Pelven, 
in a military undress, was riding along the road lead- 
ins; from Plelan to Ploermel, and endeavourinsr to 
quicken the speed of his horse, so as to reach the 
latter town before the storm, which was threatening, 
should burst forth. A dark cloud, extending as far 
as the horizon, was sinking lower and lower upon the 
tops of the tall trees, which were standing perfectly 
motionless. At intervals the dusty road was spotted 
with large drops of rain. All round, in the fields, 
reigned that anxious silence, that solemn calm, with 
which the whole of nature seems to prepare itself for 
the approach of danger. Suddenly a flash of lightning 
burst open the masses of dark cloud, an awful 
thunder-clap shook the ground, and a deluge of hail 
and rain poured down upon the earth, darkening the 
air as if with a thick fog. The traveller's horse, daz- 
zled by the lightning, and blinded by the rain, plunged, 
stopped short, then darted forward, galloping with 
such impetuosity that his master in vain strove to 
rein him in. 

Pelven had ended by giving himself up without 
further resistance, and not without a kind of agree- 
able sensation, to this furious ride through the raging 
elements, when, at a sharp turning of the road, he was 
almost unseated by the shock of twenty or thirty 
horsemen, who met him and passed like a whirlwind, 
opening their ranks to let him through. Ilerve had 



A TAT>E OF I, A VENDEE. 123 

barely time to observe, that they were republican 
dragoons, and to ask what was the cause of their 
desperate haste; but the pace at which ho was still 
going', and the fearful roar of the tempest prevented 
him from hearing their answer. He only saw one of the 
soldiers turn round and make a gesture with his hand, 
as if to entreat him not to continue his journey. Half 
a league farther on, Pelven perceived another troop 
of horsemen who were riding with the same appear- 
ance of haste and disorder. The young colonel, who 
had at last succeeded in making himself master of 
his horse, placed himself across the road and made 
signs to the fugitives, for the troopers had not at all 
the appearance of advancing against the enemy, to 
halt and speak to hilii. The living torrent of men and 
horses did not attempt to strive against the feeble ob- 
stacle opposed to it. It divided itself silently into two 
currents, which, leaving Herve perfect master of his 
position, immediately united again behind him. 

"Rascals!" cried the indignant young man; and 
spurring his horse after the retreating column, and seiz- 
ing a dragoon by his belt, he exclaimed, with a burst 
of anger, which the forlorn visage of his captive soon 
changed into a great desire to laugh — 

" Where are you going to so fast, fellow?" 

"To Plelan, mon officier— to the first republican 
cantonment." 

" Are you pursued?" 

' ' I know nothing about it, mon officier. They told 
us at Ploermel that the Chouans were coming. I don't 
believe it; but I followed my comrades." 

" And what the devil corps do you belong to?" 

" We belong to Humbert's division, which ought 
to be now at Quimper; but we were cut off from our 
brigade in the rout." 

" How? rout, you villain!" 

" Yes! on my life, mon officier, so it is! I advise 
you not to take a stroll for your amusement beyond 



124 bellah; 

Ploermel. There is a bit of country there as hot as 
the tropics. Everything you touch stings." 

" And who commands the Chouans?" 

" Ah! he's a good one, and is not afraid of pricking 
his finger; yet with all that as pretty to look at 
as a girl." 

" But who is he, you blockhead?" 

" Who? why the ci-devant prince, their deity, 
their idol, I warrant you ! They say it was an officer 
of ours who helped him to land. My best thanks 
to him." 

" Tell me," said Herve, sharply, " where were we 
beaten?" 

"At Plu-oigner, and then farther up at Camors: 
but no disgrace to the flag, mon ojficier; recruits 
joined them from all parts. At Camors, where there 
is a wooded defile, our general made us dismount to 
fire ; we dodged from tree to tree for twelve hours, even 
though their prince was with them. I had the luck 
to get a good look at him quite at my ease. ' Hallo, 
general!' cried he to Citizen Humbert, from behind 
his tree, where he was quietly eating a bit on his 
thumb till the ball began again, 'Hallo, general!' 
said he, seeing that both sides had agreed that the fire 
should cease for a quarter of an hour, to pay a visit 
to the canteens " 

" Well, to come to the point, what did he say?" 
asked Herve, shaking his cloak, which was streaming 
with rain. 

" 'Hallo, general!' said he, ' without compliment 
you have got the best grenadiers and dragoons, <kc. 
that ever I saw in my life. ' ' I can say as much for 
you, unknown sir,' answered Citizen Humbert; 'you 
have got gallant fellows as well, and you are not 
the worst among them yourself!' " 

" Well said on both sides," said Herve, gravely; 
" but where is the white army now?" 

" Ah! where is it? that's the question!" returned 



A TALE OP LA VENDEE. 125 

the dragoon. " Only conceive, mon officier, that 
everything has disappeared — infantry, cavalry, the 
cannon they took from us, munitions, everything is 
swallowed up in the earth, neither to be seen nor 
heard of. The country looks as quiet as a lamb, 
especially as there is not a creature to be seen; but 
it sounds hollow under foot, as if one was marching 
over a cellar. Won't you come back with us, mon 
officier V ' 

" Xo! " said Herve. " Here friend, here is something 
to warm you." The dragoon, raising one hand to his 
casque, took with the other the rarity which Pelven 
presented to him in the shape of a piece of silver, and 
went off at full gallop. Half-an-hour afterwards the 
young colonel alighted at the door of an humble inn, 
whose modest front appeared by the road -side a 
musket-shot from Ploermel, embellished with the tra- 
ditionary bush. 

Entrusting his steed to a little fellow in sabots, 
who looked at him with an air of distrustful timidity, 
Pelven entered the inn kitchen, where three peasants, 
seated inside a vast chimney, were talking in a low 
voice with every appearance of the most eager ani- 
mation. They rose immediately as if out of respect, 
and ceased speaking; then, approaching the door by 
a series of well calculated movements, whilst Herve 
was putting a few indifferent questions to his hostess, 
they disappeared one after the other, casting upon 
the republic uniform a look that was anything but 
friendly. The hostess, a woman of about forty, 
strongly built, and fresh-coloured, had not at first 
seemed to look upon the honourable customer whom 
fortune and the storm had sent her, with a favourable 
eye; but struck by the young man's good looks, and 
by the politeness with which he expressed himself, she 
allowed the lines of her circumspect visage to relax by 
degrees to a smile, and replied that assuredly she 
would do her best to make the young gentleman — she 



126 bellah; 

meant worthy citizen — not regret that lie had entered 
her house. 

While she was getting supper ready, Herve seated 
himself upon one of the benches which lined the 
chimney-nook, and as he was drying his boots and 
his cloak before a cheerful fire of blazing faggots, he 
made inquiries as to what was most talked of in the 
country; to which the discreet matron replied that 
nothing very new was talked of, or worth repeating; 
that every one knew, besides, what was best to speak 
of and what to be silent upon; that too long scratch- 
ing is bad, and too long talking is to be blamed ; that, 
as for herself, everybody knew that she had been 
always more inclined to sew up her mouth than to 
let her tongue wag. Taking care not to dispute 
this point, which nevertheless might have been dis- 
puted, Herve begged she would look upon him as 
only a mere traveller, who was far from wishing to 
worm her secrets out of her; that all he wished to 
know was, whether there was any chance of the 
royalist troops coining to Ploermel. If the hostess 
was to be believed, there were no such beings in ex- 
istence, and the republican horsemen whom he had 
met had doubtless been frightened at their own sha- 
dows, which the young colonel had no difficulty in 
believing, having often seen the best soldiers a prey 
to these inexplicable panics. While he was supping, 
Herve attempted to renew the conversation with his 
prudent hostess ; he began by complimenting her 
upon her culinary talents, and upon the cleanliness 
of the utensils, after which he conceived himself to 
be on a sufficiently good footing in her regard 
to be able to venture to ask for a few more ex- 
plicit details upon the state of the country, and the 
chance he should have of travelling in safety. The 
hostess responded, that, thank heaven ! she was not 
in the habit of poisoning people who eat at her table, 
and that if the young gentleman — she meant to say 



A TALE OP LA VF.XDEE. 127 

citizen officer — chose to sleep at her house, he would see 
that the sheets were as clean as the table-cloth and 
dishes, in which she did not speak the exact truth, as 
poor Herve discovered a little later to his cost. The 
good woman added, that, as for the state of the 
country beyond Ploermel, not having put her foot 
into it for the last twelve years, she could say 
nothing about it with certainty, except that many 
tilings might have happened there of which she was 
ignorant; but, the young gentleman— she intended to 
say the noble officer — could not fail to know exactly 
what to think of it if he continued his journey, which 
she advised him not to do ; not that she meant to 
say that she had any reason for trying to dissuade 
him. 

Herve was obliged to be satisfied with this infor- 
mation, of which we have only given the reader th& 
substance ; he then rose from table, and perceiving 
that it was now quite dark, he told the landlady he 
was going to take a walk through the town, and that 
he desired his room might be ready against his return. 
He returned in about an hour afterwards, carrying 
under his arm a tolerably large bundle wrapped up 
in serge. He paid his bill, saying that he meant to 
leave the next day very early, and retired to his bed- 
room, of which the hostess minutely recounted all the 
charms, leaving to experience the task of informing 
him of everything else. 

The next day, as the bright sun of a smiling June 
morning made the liquid diamonds which the storm 
had scattered the preceding night sparkle upon every 
leaf, a solitary traveller was riding slowly along the 
road which runs to the west of Ploermel. He was, 
a man in the spring-tide of life: a broad-brimmed 
hat partially concealed features of uncommon refine- 
ment, and which formed perhaps too striking a con- 
trast with the rough woollen stuff, the coarse linen 
shirt, and the heavy gaiters which composed the rest 



1^8 BELLAII; 

of his costume. He carried in his hand, instead of 
a riding-whip, a heavy holly stick with a leathern 
thong ; and, in short, the whole exterior of the horse- 
man, save a few details which a peculiarly suspicious 
observer alone might have remarked, was that of a 
country horse-dealer on a tour of business. 

As he was leaving Ploermel, the horse-dealer met 
a few peasant girls who were carrying milk to the,, 
town, and who turned round, after having returned 
his salutation, to examine him with an air of simple 
astonishment; hut, after he had crossed an open plain, 
celebrated in the heroic traditions of the country, he 
did not meet a living being ; the small number of habi- 
tations which he saw were shut up, and as silent as 
if the plague had closed their doors. This strange 
solitude, in the midst of a country which bore every- 
where the traces of the hand of man, caused the 
traveller to experience something of that melancholy 
and solemn impression which is felt in wandering 
through a church-yard. A little alarm must have 
been mixed with this feeling, for, from time to time, 
the young man rose in his stirrups in order to look 
into the fields over the tufts of reeds with their yellow 
flowers which grew upon the tops of the ditches; yet 
though he more than once thought he saw human 
figures stealing along among the distant brushwood, 
he had always been convinced that his eye had been 
deceived by the illusions of fancy. 

His surprise increased, and his heart experienced a 
still severer pang when, upon entering a small town 
seated on the banks of a river, he found it likewise 
deserted. The houses were untouched; but there 
was no trace of smoke rising from the chimneys, 
no faces in the windows, no movement in the in- 
terior of the dwellings. No sound met the tra- 
veller's ear but the loud echo of his horse's iron- 
shod hoofs upon the ill-paved streets. He asked 
himself what could have become of the sick, the 



A TALE OF LA VENDEE. 120 

aged, the children; and he thought with a shudder 
upon the terrible force, of those convictions, or 
of those prejudices, which had commanded and 
obtained so great, so unanimous a sacrifice. He 
looked with painful curiosity through the yawning 
doors at all these deserted hearths, upon these silent 
shops and yards, the child's empty cradle standing 
opposite the grandmother's untenanted arm-chair and 
idle spinning-wheel — all the sweet signs of domestic 
peace abandoned, all the traces of a happy home de- 
stroyed. It seemed to him as if he must be labouring 
under some fearful dream, or as if he were traversing 
one of those cities upon which death has fallen in the 
midst of life, and from which, after the course of cen- 
turies, their shroud of ashes has been raised. 

The horseman made haste to quit the deserted 
town, and crossed the bridge, upon one of the para- 
pets of which was a stone cross — that last symbol of 
hope which consoles us amidst the greatest sufferings. 
He only alighted when, the towers of an ancient castle, 
whose picturesque appearance would doubtless in 
better days have claimed his admiration, were lost to 
his view. Loosening his horse's bridle, he left him 
to graze at liberty on the fresh long grass which lined 
the edge of the road, under a grove of shady oaks; 
then, sitting down beside a stream which ran along 
the margin of the little wood, the young horse-dealer 
took some provisions out of his haversack and be- 
gan a repast which he often interrupted to listen 
to the confused sounds which broke the solitude. 
Half an hour afterwards he mounted, and glancing 
alternately at the roads which crossed each other at 
the spot, he remained a few seconds as if uncertain 
which direction he should take. But at last he turned 
his horse's head down the road leading southwards. 

About two leagues farther on, the traveller per- 
ceived on his right the ruins of a burnt-down village, 
and rcmarkiiio- a thick cloud of smoke which rose from 



130 bellah; 

a neighbouring field, he rode up to it, in spite of the 
obstinate resistance of his horse, and pushing aside 
with the end of his stick the branches of a hedge of 
thorn intertwined with flowers, he saw, beneath a 
heap of half-burnt straw, a hideous pile of corpses 
of men and horses. With an exclamation of horror 
and disgust, he hastened away from the fatal spot 
and continued his journey. 

But the hours were flying past; the sun was high 
in the heavens, and the heat was becoming oppres- 
sive. Upon leaving these hideous traces of the pre- 
sence of man, the traveller at first pursued his journey 
with more caution, even stopping at times to listen; 
but around him the silence was only disturbed by the 
vague rustling of plants and hum of insects on the 
bare and arid downs, or at times by dreary croakings 
from a neighbouring marsh. Becoming accustomed 
by degrees to the almost fantastic singularity of this 
prolonged solitude in the midst of a civilized country, 
he ceased to think of it, and fell into a profound 
reverie: when just as he reached the top of a long 
and steep ascent, a noise like the breaking of boughs 
awakened him suddenly from his abstraction, and 
attracted his eyes towards a group of tall beeches 
which grew upon the height, and which he had just 
passed. Seeing nothing suspicious under these trees, 
nor in the mass of verdure formed by their thick 
branches, he quietly resumed his march; but after 
proceeding about a dozen steps, an almost involun- 
tary impulse having again made him turn round his 
head, he perceived a rather startling sight. Pcerino- 
through the foliage was the face of a man, with one 
eye closed and the other shining with ferocious bril- 
liancy, while, beneath, tlie barrel of a musket projected 
between two branches with fearful precision. 

"Hallo! my lad, " cried the horseman, " do you 
shoot Vendeans then in these parts ? ' ' 

" Oh, ho! that's quite another thing," said the man 



A TALE OF LA VENDEE. 131 

of the beech tree, raising his piece a little and half open- 
ing his eve: " hut, if you please, what o'clock is it?" 

This question, simple as it may appear, seemed 
not a little to embarrass our adventurous horse- 
dealer: he was evidently challenged for a pass-word 
which he could not give, and this belief was changed 
into a sad certainty, when, after his momentary hesi- 
tation, lie saw the eye of his interrogator close again, 
and the musket resume its horizontal position. 

" You are about to do a mischief, my lad," said 
he then, with that cool intrepidity which the extremity 
of danger gives to a courageous spirit, "and a mischief 
which you will repent of both in this life and the next. 
I come from Anjou: how on earth, should I have your 
pass-word ? Come ! " continued he in an authoritative 
tone, " get down, and I'll show you a pass which is 
well worth yours." As he spoke he drew from his 
pocket a piece of paper, which he displayed in an 
imperious manner. 

The mysterious inhabitant of the beech tree 
accepted this invitation with alacrity moderated by 
prudence. He disengaged himself from the thicket 
of foliage amidst which he was crouching, and, dis- 
playing to the traveller the costume of a Breton 
peasant prepared for war, he slid clown to the foot 
of the tree ; then, having again cocked his musket, 
which he bad thrown over his shoulder while making 
his descent, he approached the horseman, and cauti- 
ously took the paper which the other held out towards 
him. After reading with attention, and apparently not 
without some difficulty, the few lines traced upon it, 
the expression of savage distrust which had till then 
darkened his features gave way instantly to a kind 
of joyous grimace; he winked his eye in a knowing 
manner as he returned the paper to the horse-dealer, 
took off his hat, and said, bending his knees as fast- 
as they could go, several times — 

"M. Charette, is well, I hope, my master?" 



132 bellaii; 

" As well as possible, my good fellow. You took 
me for a spy of the ' Blues,' did you not?" 

" Good faith, yes!" 

'' And what were you doing on your tree, eh!" 

The peasant shook his head; a cunning smile 
expanded his mouth from ear to ear, and he answered 
m a low voice — 

" Hark ye! I am watching for them." 

" But the 'Blues' arc far from this, my lad; I left 
them at Yitre, the day before yesterday." 

" They're gone from there, my master, and they're 
coming here as fast as they can. Those, down 
yonder," and the peasant stretched his hand towards 
the north, ''learnt that yesterday, and they flitted 
in the night. But where may the gentleman be going 
to, if it is not impertinent to ask? to Yannes?'' 

" Xo, to Plu-oigner; I fancy I shall find the chiefs 
there, to whom I am bringing a message from the 
general. 

" What chiefs?" 

" Well — hint ;" answered the horse-dealer, laying 
one hand affectionately on the Chouan's shoulder. 

" Fleur-de-Lys 



rJ" 



"Ah! yes, that is very likely; why you are turning 
your back on him!" 

" Is Eleur-de-Lys at Kergant, then?" asked the 
traveller, hastily withdrawing bis hand. 

" To be sure, and M. George as well, and all our 
gentlemen; sometimes one, sometimes another." 

" Then I must go back again. I was told that 
you occupied Plu-oigner." 

"Yes, at first we did, but that's changed, and it 
is much better as it is," said the peasant, knitting 
his brow with an air of intelligence. " They'll tell 
you all about it down yonder." 

"And you are satisfied with Fleur-de-Lvs, my o-ond 
fellow?" " P 



A TAl.E OF I.A VENDEE. 



"Holy Virgin!" said the Breton, waving his hat 
over his head with a movement of artless enthusiasm, 
" are we satisfied? He's an angel of heaven! You'll 
see him, my master: he is just like the St. George 
over the chief altar in our parish church. And how 
brave he is! The balls of the ' Blues' can't touch him. 
lie gathers them in his hand as if they were flowers 
from the hedge. He has got his great black horse 
too, which eats powder as others do oats. When 
the 'Blues' see him coming, ' White upon Black,' as 
they say, they cry out, 'Here's the devil coming!' 
because they call all the saints so. And then to see 
them run! Fifty of them passed by yesterday morn- 
ing, and" added the peasant, with a fierce smile, 
"there are seven or eight of them resting in Marie 
Breeh's field, about a league from this. The gentle- 
man smelled the cooking as he passed, I dare say?" 

The traveller shuddered at the question, his eyes 
flashed fire, and his fingers grasped the handle of his 
stick convulsively. These equivocal signs did not 
escape the Chouan, and, retreating a few steps, he 
fixed a suspicious look upon the traveller's troubled 
countenance. 

" You grieve me, my friend," resumed the latter 
hastily. " I should like to have been there to say a 
few more words to those rascals; you cannot conceive 
what pleasure I should have had in wielding a sabre 
for the good cause." 

"Is it so, my master? Well, you will have that 
pleasure in a short time where you are going," 
answered the peasant, laughing. 

" That's what I am reckoning on, my friend; and I 
hope we shall soon see each other again. Well, good 
evening! for I shall not get on very fast with a tired 
horse, and 1 wish to reach Kergant in good time." 

" Ah, marry! you won't get there before night, 
and even for that you must go across the country. 
After you come to Marie Breeh's field you will find 



1 34 bellaii ; 

a narrow lane to your left, and then you have only to 
go straight forward." 

"Thank you, my lad; I shall remember your face 
without fail." 

" But stay," returned the Chouan, breaking off a 
twig from the beech tree; " put this strip of green 
in your hat, for there are more muskets on the road 
than you will be able to see." 

The horse-dealer followed this prudent recommenda- 
tion, thanked his dangerous friend once more, and 
began again to descend the hill upon the top of which 
he had met this adventure, which fortunately had not 
ended as it had promised. At the corner of the field 
which served as a grave for the unhappy dragoons, he 
found, as the man had said, a narrow lane, deeply 
buried between two hedges, and so well fitted for an 
ambuscade that he would have hesitated to enter it, 
had not the twig of beech appeared to him security 
sufficient against any assault of this nature. The 
remainder of his journey was marked by no event 
worthy of notice: he passed through two or three 
ruined and deserted village*, and frequently lie heard, 
in the thickets which lined the road, movements and 
murmuring voices which gave him a little anxiety in 
spite of tbe protecting sign which waved in his hat, 
while twice lie found it expedient to return a friendly 
salute to some peasants, who appeared to devote them- 
selves to agricultural pursuits with an industry from 
which they reaped little fruit; but he.yond the difficul- 
ties of an execrable road, no obstacle hindered the 
progress of Ids journey. Nevertheless, twilight was 
giving way to night when the horseman entered the 
long avenue of ancient trees which led to the manor- 
house of Kergant. 

About half way up, lie alighted, and fastened bis 
horse to tbe post of a gate leading to a meadow. He, 
then got over the gate, crossed the meadow, and after 
having leaped a hedge, with the weak points of which 



A TALE OF LA VENDEE. 135 

lie appeared to be perfectly familiar, he found himself 
in a large garden which lay parallel with the left wing 
of the chateau. Several windows brilliantly lighted 
up cast a bright reflection upon the narrow paths, 
bounded by an edging of box, which wound among the 
flower beds. Here the young man stopped and ap- 
peared to hesitate for a moment; but soon resumed 
his walk, taking care to keep out of the bright rays of 
light. His pace, however, was slow and uncertain, and 
he appeared to be going on without any fixed object. 
His eyes seemed to penetrate the darkness, and to 
discover at almost every step some object — a tree, 
a bench, the pedestal of a statue, or the base of 
some gigantic vase — from which they could not 
afterwards withdraw themselves without difficulty. 
He went up to them, he touched them, and then 
covered his eyes with his hand. Each nook seemed 
to recall some bygone scene that smiled upon him 
like a long absent friend. 

A rapid slope led him through a labyrinth of plea- 
ched walks to a part of the garden called the wood, 
in which nature had been left almost to her original 
wild luxuriance. From time to time, however, open- 
ings in the dark clumps of fir-trees allowed the 
tremulous light of a starry sky to fall upon the turf. 
This retreat was enlivened by the murmur of a rivu- 
let, which, falling from cascade to cascade, was lost to 
view amidst the tall grass and reeds of a marsh at the 
extremity of the wood. The young man had for some 
minutes been following one of the paths which wound 
along under an archway of foliage, and had just 
crossed a little bridge thrown across the brook, when 
a sound of voices reached his ear, so distinct and so 
near, that the speakers could not have been more than 
a few feet from him. He stopped abruptly, then 
bending towards the copse, he perceived on a circular 
bank of grass, in front of which the path ended, the 
graceful outline of a female form wrapped up in a 



13G hell ah; 

hooded cloak. Close by, leaning against a tree, was 
a man of slight figure, who bent a little forward to 
speak to her. 

"This is unreasonable and ungrateful," said the 
unknown, in a voice of the most caressing softness; 
" you know how my life is occupied, and in what way. 
I have great and fearful duties; if I were to neglect 
them you would be the first to reproach me, or you 
are very much changed. How can I help being a 
little absent sometimes, with such subjects to think 
of?" 

"Yes," interrupted the young woman, in a voice 
smothered either by prudence or emotion, " yes, but 
for all that, you must not deceive me. You do not 
know, you cannot know, what I suffer when this idea 
crosses my thoughts, and all that then passes through 
my mind " 

"Come," returned the unknown, "these are 
miserable trifles indeed. You have no cause for 
apprehension ; I do not recognise your intrepid heart, 
your courageous soul, when you thus allow yourself 
to be overcome by such puerile presentiments!" 

" You will recognise my former self if you ever 
deceive me, Fleur-de-Lys !" 

" With all my heart! That is why I love you, 
my proud darling — why I love you so tenderly!" 

These words, and the tone in which they were 
spoken, seemed to restore the confidence of the 
young woman a little. She allowed her hand to be 
taken by him she called Fleur-de-Lys, and began to 
address him with a passionate vivacity, but in so low a 
voice that she could only be heard by him to whom 
she spoke. Suddenly, at a movement she heard in 
the copse, she rose hurriedly, and seizing her com 
panion's arm, she murmured in a voice made harsh 
by terror — 

"My father!" 

At the same instant, a new sound struck upon 



A TALE OK LA VENULE. 137 

their attentive ears — the sharp click made by the lock 
of some fire-arm. The young female could not 
restrain a fresh gesture of alarm, she covered her 
face with her clasped hands and scarcely breathed. 

After a few seconds of anxious expectation — 

"Come, dear child," said Fleur-de-Lys, "it is 
nothing ; the woods at night are full of these inex- 
plicable sounds." And as he spoke, he and his 
companion returned up the winding path. 

As soon as they had crossed the little bridge over 
the rivulet, the stranger whom accident had made a 
witness of this mysterious scene, emerged from the 
hiding-place he had found behind the trunk of a gigan- 
tic fir-tree, and uncocking a pistol which he held in 
his hand — 

"It is not my sister," said he; " it is she — I must 
wait!" 



133 bellah; 



CHAPTER X. 



" Quick ! a chair and a cover. To the health of the com- 
mander!" — Moliere, — Le Festin de«Pierre. 



Ox the same evening about twenty guests were assem- 
bled around a sumptuous supper-table, in the dining- 
hall of the Chateau do Kergant, a vast apartment 
wainscoted with oak to the ceiling. Mdemoiselle 
Andree de Pelven, looking more distinguished for 
grace than majesty, was seated on the right of the 
Marquis de Kergant, while the canoness, on the left 
of her brother, displayed more majesty than grace. 
Mademoiselle Bellah de Kergant, dignified and smiling 
like a young queen, was seated at the centre of the 
tabic opposite the marquis, glancing with a discreet 
watchfulness over the circle of guests, and profiting 
by her observations from time to time to give orders 
in a low voice to the lackeys in crimson liveries who 
pressed behind her. 

To have lackeys at all, not to speak of their crimson 
livery, would seem to be an extraordinary, if not a 
ridiculous proceeding, in the midst of a raging civil 
war; but the canoness Eleanore was one of those 
who deemed it fitting to support her rank to the last; 
and she had severely reproached the queen for those 
breaches of etiquette which, according to her, had 
h'en the principal cause of the French revolution. 
Mic professed the greatest admiration for those Roman 
senators who waited for their enemies seated on their 
chairs of ivory; and the crimson liveries of her lackeys, 
obstinately maintained out of her private purse, 



A TALE OF LA VENDEIC. 139 

appeared to her to form a kind of honourable pendant 
to this noble action of the days of old. M. de 
Kergant, although he plainly perceived all the pue- 
rility of this vain display, still consented to it with a 
good grace, on account of a certain grandeur of soul 
which it evinced, and which he was fully capable of 
sharing. The same decorum, and the same care, 
might be perceived in all the rest of the service. 
The table, splendidly lighted, was covered with plate 
and valuable china, and was served with that extreme 
abundance which was then, as now, peculiar to the 
provinces. 

Although the marquis and his sister had succeeded 
in flattering themselves, and in cheating their mis- 
fortunes, by this splendour borrowed from better days, 
their success was limited to the decorations of the 
repast: the guests could not assist the illusion. More 
than one among them wore the common peasant's 
dress, and hands hardened by exposure and toil were 
making use of the armorial plate. The marquis called 
them heroes, and he was right in so doing, although 
a few years before he would hardly have acknow- 
ledged them to be men ; but he had seen their blood 
flow, and learned by experience that it was as red as 
his own. This revolution, which the old noble fought 
against with so much desperation, had yet planted its 
foot upon his domestic hearth ; he treated it nobly at 
his family table, and had enthroned there the greatest 
of its benefits, that only true social equality which is 
not a chimera of fanatics or a base dream of envy — • 
namely, that which seats side by side at the same 
honourable banquet, all the virtuous, all the talented, 
and all the courageous. We must not omit to men- 
tion the plebeian head-dress of Alix, the forester's 
daughter, which shone at one end of the table, and 
gave a charming Grace to all these violent contrasts. 

M. de Kergant, of a generous spirit when passion 
did not obscure his better nature, had recompensed 



140 BELLAH; 

by this favour the devotion which the young girl had 
shown to her companions in exile. The punctilious 
canoness could not conceal from herself the fatal blow 
which such a mixture of costumes and manners gave 
to her purely classical traditions; she felt to the bottom 
of her heart the want of harmony between them and 
her crimson-liveried lackeys, but she consoled her- 
self as best she might with the good done to the 
" cause," by thus flattering the peasant chiefs. 

Accident afforded me a few years ago the ad- 
vantage of making the acquaintance of one of the 
few survivors of the great Chouannerie. From his 
youthful spirit of adventure, as it seemed to me, 
more than from any very strong conviction, he had 
taken an active part in the intrigues, as well as in the 
wars of royalist Brittany ; he had indeed found so much 
pleasure in it, that he was, I believe, quite ready to 
begin againwhen he fortunately died the next spring. 
This brave old man, who had killed many a stout fel- 
low in his day, often astonished me by relating with 
what appetite he had eaten his meals, and with what 
tranquillity he had followed the daily routine of life 
in the midst of the fatal events and gloomy apprehen- 
sions of civil war. "When dano-er," said he, " dogs 
us from morning till night, it quickly loses its power 
over us." lie added that in his mind Damocles must 
have been a sorry coward not to have become accus- 
tomed to such a simple thing as a sword hanging over 
his head. He could understand that it might be rather 
annoying the first day, but he protested that, as for 
him, he should not have lost a mouthful the second; 
and that the sword would have had its pains for 
nothing. He went even farther: he declared himself 
capable, although threatened by any species of dan- 
ger, provided it lasted long enough, of sustaining 
for any length of time the most trifling and frivolous 
topic of discourse. To support this affirmation he 
related to us several wonderful tours du force, which 



A TALE OF L\ VliXDEE. 111 

I am sorry not to be able to interweave into this his- 
tory; but the kindness of the old partisan enables me 
at least to make the reader acquainted with the sort 
of conversation which filled up the brief intervals of a 
bloody drama, and served to enliven a supper given 
by Chouans, in the interval between two of those 
combats in which no quarter was given or received, 
and only eight days before the affair of Quiberou. 

"Upon my word, this is positively a wedding sup- 
per, my clear host, and for a royal wedding, too," 
said a young man, laughingly, who occupied the post 
of honour next to Mademoiselle de Kergant, and whose 
every word was received with the most extraordinary 
respect. "I suspect that you have granted an asy- 
lum in your chateau to all the illustrious cooks whom 
the Revolution has turned out of place, and this sup- 
per has every appearance of being the result of the 
combined talents of those worthy gentlemen. In 
any case such a supper in my poor opinion is better 
worth having than a long poem of gratitude; the 
more so as the shortest poems have always seemed 
to me the best. Ah! Mademoiselle de Kergant 
frowns! I have been so unfortunate as to utter some 
heresy." 

' ' You have utterly disgraced yourself in Mademoi- 
selle Bellah's eyes, my lord duke," said a young abbe, 
with a keen eye and rather rakish look, who was 
seated near the canoness. 

"My daughter, my lord," added M. de Kergant, 
" has the conceit of loving poetry passionately." 

"Well," returned the individual who was addressed 
as the duke, "I said nothing against poetry, I only 
spoke of poems." 

"But, sir," said Bellah, smiling, "what do you 
mean by the word poem?" 

"By a poem, mademoiselle, I mean — I mean such 
as the Ihnriade, which I have never read, but which 
I know is very dull." 



142 BELLAH ; 

"Besides the author must have been a brute," 
observed the canoness. "I have never read his Hen- 
riade either, but they say Joan of Arc is most shame- 
fully treated in it." 

"I am enchanted to be so instructed, madame,'' 
answered the young duke, " and I shall add this 
grievance to those which I already entertained against 
that epic. As for poetry, I have the happiness to share 
the passionate love with which it inspires Mademoi- 
selle de Kergant; but I am far from honouring indis- 
criminately with this title all lines written of an 
equal length. According to my mind, a man is not 
a poet because he calls things by their wrong names, 
and because he measures syllables with more or less 
ability according to a settled rhythm. Simplicity, 
nature, good faith, which are the characteristics of 
the poetry I speak of, belong only to the earliest ages of 
nations, as to the earliest years of man. The ima- 
ginations, the feelings, the dreams of a child are poetry. 
A young man who loves is also a poet; but under pain 
of being thought affected and ridiculous, poems of 
feeling and expression must be abandoned after the 
first half of life is passed, for they then cease to be 
sincere and touching. You have treasures of true 
poetry, mademoiselle, in your old Breton ballads. 
Ah ! I am enchanted to see that your brow is 
smoothed — you pardon me, do you not? Well, gen- 
tlemen, I may perhaps be offending some unknown 
bard here, but that is my opinion. A dawning 
civilisation is poetical, for a child cries, laughs, sings 
before it speaks. A people in ripe age, and, with 
still more reason, a worn-out people, is only poetical 
by art. It is like a greybeard playing on a guitar. 
An ' Art of Poetry' in a nation signifies that the era 
of poetry is passed; so that since Boileau, and I would 
willingly include him too amongst the rejected, I do 
not know of one poet who has appeared in France. 
You smile, chevalier? If you know of one, even if 



A TALE OF LA VENDEE. 143 

it be yourself, I am ready to do him homage, on 
satisfactory proof being given of his ability, you 
understand." 

The individual to whom the young duke addressed 
these words was a man about fifty years of age, tall, 
thin, of sallow complexion, and carefully powdered. 
He was seated next Andree, to whom he appeared to 
be recounting, with the most serious air in the world, 
the most amusing things, if they were to be judged 
of by the young lady's peals of laughter. 

"Your theory, my lord duke,'' said he, gravely, 
"wounds me, I confess, in my dearest affections. 
You refuse the title of poet to a man who was my 
friend, and whose pen, I am convinced, was cut by- 
Apollo himself. lie knew, besides, how to introduce 
an element into poetry which does not in general 
figure there, much to its detriment I believe — namely 
utility." 

"And the name of this lofty genius?" asked the 
duke. 

" His name, my lord, is written in Parnassus I 
doubt not, as it is in my heart; but I confess with 
regret that his contemporaries had not the curiosity 
to pierce the veil under which he loved to shroud his 
muse." 

"Let us hear his verses, then." 

The cavalier meditated for a moment, passed 
his hand across his brow, and then resumed : 
••Fortunately, I remember a few of them. This 
great man, gentlemen, was not only my friend, he 
was also the friend of mankind. He delighted to 
give them wholesome advice while he charmed them 
by his talent. He spoke thus: — - 

1 Aux gens que pas a pas conduit vers le tombeau 

La phthisie ou la fievre lento, 
Ji; conseille le lait de chevre ou de chameau, 
Ou celui de jument, comme chose excellente.'" 



144 bella.ii; 

The assembled guests could not hear this brilliant 
stanza without tokens of the greatest amusement; 
Andree, especially, applauded with both hands, with 
all the wild delight of a child. 

"Another, chevalier! another, I entreat you," 
exclaimed she. 

"Willingly, mademoiselle," replied the impertur- 
bable chevalier. "It was my friend, likewise, who 
said so wittily of the goose, considered in the light of 
human food - — ■ 

'L' oie est nn animal stupide, 
Qui doit etre sans cesss en un sejour humide; 
II la faut abreuver; l'axiome est certain : 

Vive, elle veut de l'eau; morte elle veut du vin.' 

It was my friend, also, gentlemen, who revealed to 
the world a certain number of new truths, after the 
manner of the following: — 

'Laver les mains est une proprcte 
Qui contribue a la suite.'" 

When the excessive admiration which could not 
fail to be excited by such specimens of genius was 
a little subsided — 

"Faith! gentlemen," said M. de Kergant, " these 
are certainly rather powerful truisms, but I think 1 
prefer even them to the madrigals, impromptus, and 
all those washy pastorals, with which we were inun- 
dated twenty years ago by a crowd of young good- 
for-nothings." 

"Gently! brother," interrupted the canoness; 
" those poetasters of whom you speak were, I con- 
fess, impertinents who should have been whipped in 
the market-place, but they had a vast deal of wit. 
You yourself did not always feel such disdain for this 
class of productions as you profess to-day. I am 



A TALE OF I.V VEN'llEK. H5 

sorry (o remind you publicly of sonic verses which 
were composed in the year 1 775, by a certain marquis 
whose name I will not reveal. Here they are," 
added the canoness, giving her mouth a pinched-in, 
babyish expression — "To a lady, with a dog on her 

"Sister!" exclaimed the marquis. 

"My dear brother, I name nobody," answered the 

canoness. 

'"TO A LADY WITH A DOG ON II Eli LAI'. 

I: Grace a vous, cruelle beaute, 
Malgre leur peu de ressemblance, 
Kous voyons la fidelite 
Snr les genoux de 1' inconstance." 

"Ah! my dear sir!" said Bellah, directing a 
charming glance of tender reproach, mingled with 
filial respect, towards her father. 

"Well! but upon my word, that is really very 
pretty, marquis," said the brilliant young man who 
appeared to be the king of the feast. ' ' 1 can under- 
stand, besides, why the canoness should defend a 
species of literature which has produced the graceful 
rondeau which I am going to repeat to you, and 
which I believe was written for herself: — 

' TO A LADT WHO ASKED FOR A RONDEAU. 

'On n'en fait plus, ma chere Elfionore,' 
That is your name, I believe, madam? 

' On ne fait plus de ces jolis rondeaux 
Dont la cadence agreable et sonore, 
Droit au refrain marchait a pas eqaux. 
Dans ce siecle plus sage, ou plus froid que les autres, 
II faudrait que nos coeurs fussent toujours emus, 
Par des yeux aussi vifs, aussi beaux que les votres : 
On n'en fait plus! 

K. 



146 bbllah; 

Les complimens sont le fard du poete : 
J'en ai fait mille, ils etaient superflus ; 
Mais des l'instant oil l'on vous les repete, 
On n'en fait plus!' " 

"Can any one deny that that is adorable!" ex- 
claimed the canoness; " and these, my lord: — 

'to egle. 

'Tons accusez 1' Amour, 1' Amour en rit tout bas; 
Car, en le clecriant, vous augmentez sa gloire. 
Quand vous niez ce dieu, vous nous forcez d'y croire, 
Et vous le faites naitre en disant qu'il n'est pas.' " 

"That is very well written, douhtless," said the 
young abbe; " hut I think I can remember some- 
thing still more lively. Judge for yourself, madam: 

' A ce bouquet charmant que pour toi Ton a fait, 
Je vois, gentille Egle, qu'aujourd' hui c'est ta fete!' 
'Non,' me repomlit-elle avec un air honnete, 
' C'est moi qui l'ai cueilli pour orner mon corset. 
C'est done' lui dis-je alors, la fete du bouquet!' " 

"Ah, heavens!" cried the duke, with a burst of af- 
fected enthusiasm, "how exquisite'! Truly, ladies, 
it is as if one were reclining on a bod of roses." 

" For my part," said M. de Kergant, " I wish the 
authors of such things were fed upon pomade!" 

" But, my good host, when a person has written a 
ouatrain 'upon a lady with a dog on her lap,' it 
cmnes with an ill grace — " 

"Excuse me, my lord," said the old marquis, 
laughing, "but I must inform you of the history of 
this quatrain. I wrote it, certainly — " 

" Oh, ho!" said the duke, " we have caught you, 
then!" 



V TALK OF LA VENDEK. 117 

" But it was a challenge; my word was pledged: 
I must either have written it — or died." 

" Indeed, marquis ! did you value life so much, 
then, in those days?" 

M. de Kergant was about to answer in the same 
light tone, when he saw his daughter rise suddenly 
and remain standing and immovable, her cheeks pale 
and her eyes rivetted with a look of stupor upon the 
side of the hall in which the entrance-door was 
situated. Half the guests had their eyes fixed on 
the same spot, with an air of extreme surprise, and 
even of alarm. M. de Kergant turned round hastily 
and perceived Colonel Herve standing near the door, 
in his republican uniform, his head bare, and without 
his sword. The marquis rose: Andree uttered a cry. 

" Monsieur le Marquis," said Pelven, coming for- 
ward, his frank handsome countenance a little pale 
from fatigue and emotion, " I have come to demand 
your hospitality. For reasons which you can easily 
comprehend, there is no safety for me now in the re- 
publican ranks. Warned in time of the fate which 
awaited me, I thought there would be more folly than 
courage in not withdrawing myself from it. Since I 
am proscribed, I come among the proscribed. If I 
have reckoned too much, sir, upon your former 
friendship, I will drag elsewhere an unhappy exis- 
tence which the terrible party to which I had de- 
voted it has cast from them." 

The guests listened with a mournful silence to these 
words of the young officer. All eyes were fixed upon 
the marquis, whose features had lost their transient 
expression of cheerful good humour, and assumed 
their accustomed character of noble severity. 

"Monsieur de Pelven," said he, making a step 
towards his unexpected guest; but instead of con- 
tinuing his sentence with the solemnity with which 
he had begun it, he suddenly seized the young man's 
hand, and pressing him to his heart, ' ' Herve, ' ' cried 



148 bellah; 

he in a broken voice, " my son, my child — you are 
welcome 1" 

This reception, which Herve had not hoped for, 
touched him to the heart. As he received the warm 
embrace of the old man, he felt at the same time an icy 
shudder pass through his veins. The thought of the 
double part which he was playing for the first time 
in his life, flashed across his mind like a pang of re- 
morse, and while he stammered out a few words of 
gratitude and devotion, a brighter colour rose to his 
bronzed cheeks; but his eye having suddenly encoun- 
tered the flashing glance of the personage seated near 
Mademoiselle de Kergant, he instantly recovered all 
his firmness and resolution. The guests replied by a 
joyous acclamation, accompanied with a noisy knock- 
ing of their glasses on the table: one only, he who 
in spite of his youth appeared to be the first among 
them, contented himself with bowing his head with 
grave politeness. 

Herve, at the marquis's invitation, now took his 
place next Andree, who received him with transports 
of joy, mingled with tears. Mademoiselle de Ker- 
gant, more reserved and more penetrating, had not 
given the companion of her childhood any other token 
of welcome than a cold, melancholy smile; and the 
glances which she covertly cast upon him seemed 
clouded with a feeling of doubt and anxiety. 

An embarrassed silence succeeded by degrees to 
the tumultuous movement which had been caused by 
the arrival of the young republican. Mademoiselle 
de Kergant's remarkable neighbour alone preserved 
his air of superior ease, while he endeavoured, with 
a solicitude marked by good taste, to re-animate the 
conversation, which the presence of the execrated re- 
volutionary uniform seemed to have arrested upon the 
lips of those present. The tone of his voice, sonorous, 
and at the same time melodious as a trumpet with a 
silver sound, struck Herve as if he recollected to have 



A TAI.I5 OF LA VENDEE. 149 

heard it before. The young colonel no longer doubted 
that he was in the presence of that mysterious chief, 
the enemy and the rival whom he had come to seek — 
of that royalist hero, who, in so short a space, had 
raised his warlike reputation to such a height. 

Ilerve studied him with sombre curiosity. He was 
a man of the smallest size which is compatible with 
manly beauty and grace, and might be about five- 
and-twenty or thirty; his broad and lofty forehead 
was shaded by masses of black hair, his mouth 
was chiselled with a delicacy a little too effeminate 
perhaps, but this feature, possessing a charm scarcely 
worthy of a man, was redeemed by the pride of the 
lofty brow, by the bold lines of an aquiline nose with 
slightly distended nostrils, and above all, by the 
almost insupportable splendour of his eyes. Pelven 
thought he could discern in the physiognomy of the 
unknown some of the characteristic features of an il- 
lustrious family; but he was indebted to his patrician 
education for information too precise and too detailed 
respecting all the members of the House of Bourbon, 
not to be instantly convinced that none of the names 
attributed to him by the popular voice belonged of right 
to the young chief before him. 

But whosoever he might be, his attitude and de- 
portment were truly royal. None appeared to contest 
his right to act as a prince, and he exercised this right 
with an assurance tempered with the most exquisite 
politeness. His words ran like a flame round the 
circle of guests — rapid, affable, entrancing — finding 
access alike to the rudest as well as to the most cul- 
tivated minds, while he suited his pleasantry or his 
praise to the tastes and habits of each with a surprising- 
flexibility of tone and language. Every power of fasci- 
nation, as every prestige of victory, seemed the attribute 
of this being so richly endowed by nature, in whom 
the most fascinating grace was united to the imperious 
attraction of force, and who addressed soldiers and 



ISO BELLAJI; 

women with equal eloquence. Nevertheless this rich 
medal could not fail to have its reverse. A scrutini- 
sing ohserver would have been startled by the splen- 
dour of so many resources and qualities, lavished, 
as it were, without reserve, and leaving room to 
doubt whether any thing remained behind. It seemed 
more natural to accept this young man for a master 
than to take him for a friend. 

Herve could not help starting when he heard him- 
self addressed by the object of his anxious scrutiny, 
to whom we shall in future give his surname of Fleur- 
de-Lys. 

"Monsieur de Pelven," said he, filling his glass, 
" allow me to drink to the happy accident which has 
procured us the advantage, so deservedly appreciated, 
of seeing you amongst us." 

"Sir," answered Herve, forcing a smile, "I am 
very much deceived if it is not you yourself who 
must be thanked for my presence, provided, indeed, 
there is any cause for gratitude." 

" On my word, count," answered Fleur-de-Lys, in 
an affectionate tone of voice, " either I deceive myself 
very much, or you cannot quite forgive me for the 
liberty I took in disposing of your services without 
your knowledge." 

"Faith, sir!" said Herve, gaily, "I confess that 
I bear a certain blow still imprinted on my memory." 

" All! thank beaven, that is not upon my con- 
science! George, my friend, I beg you will answer 
for your own deeds. I will not have y(.mr massive fist 
thrust between M. do Pelven and me. Here is the 
knocker-down, my dear count!" added the young 
man, pointing out to Herve a person in the dress of 
a peasant with square shoulders and a bullet head, 
whose loose cravat displayed the throat of a Hercules ; 
" you will forgive George, I am sure, when you have 
seen how he stands fire." 

"Excuse me, Monsieur le Comte," said George, 



A TALE OF LA VENDEE. 151 

with a hoarse laugh, "hut all our lives were at stake, 
and, hesides, a hlow with the fist does not entail any 
dishonour." 

"I did not say it had dishonoured me," replied 
Herve, "hut it hurt me rather. I suppose, Mr. 
(ieorge, that you were one of those ladies who were 
washing their clothes on that eventful night in the 
Valley of the Groac'h? May I he so indiscreet as to 
ask the motive of that masquerade — certainly a most 
harmless one?" 

" Ah, don't speak of it! " said Fleur-dc-Lys; " these 
P> iv tons are so brave that they carry their courage 
to the height of madness. They chose to receive me 
with this drollery, which gave us all the greatest 
embarrassment. ' ' 

"And may I ask, Mr. George," pursued Herve, 
' ' by virtue of what enchantment you were able to 
stand our fire with impunity?" 

"Ah, sir," answered George, "my fellows are so 
cool, do you see! I have accustomed them to rush 
up to the mouths of the pieces, throwing themselves 
down flat, from time to time, to escape the shot. You 
can judge for yourself with what precision they perform 
this manoeuvre." 

As the intrepid partisan finished speaking, Made- 
moiselle de Kergant rose from table, taking the hand 
which Fleur-de-Lys offered to her, and the whole 
company followed them to an adjoining drawing-room, 
which was adorned by several portraits. Herve upon 
once more seeing these grave ancestral faces, the 
honoured witnesses of his childish sports, the domestic 
protectors of those peaceful years, could not help 
having vividly recalled to his mind the sorrows and 
agitations of the present hour. While the guests 
dispersed in groups through the drawing-room, and 
gave themselves up to that cheerful conversation 
which is promoted by a good repast, he retired to 
the deep embrasure of a window; but he had hardly 



152 bell ah; 

readied it when he saw Bellah approaching with a 
smiling ahsent air, addressing a word here and there, 
as she passed, to the people near her; then, changing 
her tone and voice when she was quite close to him, 
she said quickly, and in a low voice — 
"Herve, what have you come here for?" 
" Heaven is my witness," answered the young 
man, "that I would sooner have endured the most 
ignominious death than have done so, could I have 
had the slightest suspicion of what I was to see and 
hear!" 

"Is this a riddle, Monsieur de Pelven?" asked 
Bellah, with that quiet hauteur which formed one of 
her peculiar charms. 

" An hour ago I was in the pine grove, Bellah." 
" In the pine grove?" repeated Mademoiselle de 
Kergant, answering Herve's accusing glance with a 
look of the most perfect innocence. Her father's 
voice calling her interrupted this explanation, and 
the young girl, making a slight gesture of impa- 
tience, raised her beautiful eyes to heaven, and 
moved away with a thoughtful air. 

When we are astonished at the facility with which 
a clever man allows himself to be deceived by the 
woman he loves, we forget the natural inclination of 
the human heart to hope. The mind of the unhappy 
man is full of illusions, he is the willing accomplice 
in the arts by which he is enveloped: it is our own 
weak hands which retain the veil by which we are 
blinded. A single word, a gesture of surprise, had 
been sufficient to combat and to half conquer in 
Ilervc's mind proofs which, a moment before, had 
seemed indisputable, lie remembered the proud and 
innocent mind of his adopted sister, he saw the pure 
light again beaming in her eyes, he forgot that per- 
fection of hypocrisy which can clothe a wicked brow 
with false seeming, and lie almost reproached himself 
for having, upon vague suspicions only, outraged a 



A TAM OF E,A VENDEE. Ill,} 

1 icing worthy of his respect. Still, the scene in the 
pine grove had certainly taken place. 

Just as this recollection had plunged Herve into 
fresh anxiety, a woman passed before the curtain 
which half concealed him from view, and raising his 
head he saw the pale energetic countenance of Alix. 
However improbable the idea which this sight sud- 
denly awakened in the young man's mind, he did not 
fail to welcome it as a support both for his doubts 
and for his hopes; but upon again observing the 
animated group of which Bell ah and Fleur-de-Lys 
formed the centre, Herve could not help being con- 
vinced that if the young royalist hero, had not yet 
all those claims upon his hatred which he had imagined, 
was neglecting no means to deserve them. 

It was plain that the presence of Bellah acted like a 
powerful stimulus on him, and that he was exerting 
himself to fascinate her. It was to her that he directed 
every word; for her he displayed all the treasures of 
his mind, while he surrounded her with all the 
prestige of his rank, as if in a magic circle. Bellah 
was evidently under the charm of the fascination, 
whatever might be the depth of the impression. 
Herve could even read a sort of passionate admiration 
in the eyes of the young girl, which immediately 
brought back all his suspicions and his anger. Re- 
minding himself of the true object of his journey to 
Kergant, he blamed himself for not having already 
abandoned his borrowed part, and for having kept 
on the mask longer than was necessary. He ap- 
proached his formidable rival, and seizing an oppor- 
tunity when he had just ceased speaking : 

"Sir," said he, "may I be permitted a moment's 
conversation with you before I unite myself for ever 
to a cause which you so well represent? I am cer- 
tainly not in a condition to set a price upon my ser- 
vices, but my position amongst you needs to be 
clearly defined, for your satisfaction as well as for my 



1 5 A BELLAH ; 

own — I may add for the sake of my honour. I think 
I am not- mistaken, sir, in attributing to you all that 
authority which enables you to pronounce without 
any appeal upon all that concerns me." 

During these words, the piercing eyes of the young 
royalist had not ceased to study the countenance of 
the speaker attentively: a smile of singular meaning 
played on his lips as he replied — 

"I am quite at your service, Monsieur de Pelven, 
and you are only forestalling my own wishes. The 
evening is fine, I think. Would a turn in the garden 
be agreeable to you ? We can converse there at our 
ease ? ' ' 

Herve bowed. 

"But, my dear host," exclaimed Fleur-de-Lys, 
addressing the Marquis de Kergant, " are we to 
treat M. de Pelven like a prisoner? I observe he 
has no sword. This to a brave soldier like him, is a 
most unmerited mortification, and shall not be pro- 
longed a moment longer, if you have any regard to 
my request." 

" You remind mo, my lord duke," said the mar- 
quis, "that the fitting moment is now arrived for 
me to restore to Herve a part of his inheritance of 
which I have till now defrauded him." 

As he spoke, the marquis approached a console 
table, and taking from it a sword which was lying on 
a velvet cushion, he presented it to Herve. 

"^iy dear sou," said he, "this is yours; your 
father's sword can be wielded by a loyal hand alone. 
I deliver it to you in the sure confidence that it will 
never be turned against either our holy cross or our 
lioly fleurs-de-lys. " 

At these words the young duke smiled again. 

" I will answer for M. de Pelven!" said he, " that 
this confidence is well placed, and that it is given at 
the right moment," added he, in a lower voice, turn- 
ing on his heel and moving towards the door. Pelven 



A TALE OP LA VENDEE. 155 

buckled on his sword, thanking M. de Kergant with 
that somewhat cold reserve which had marked his 
conduct towards the old nobleman since his arrival, 
and which the latter attributed to the natural embar- 
rassment caused by this forced return. He then 
followed Fleur-de-Lys out of the room. 

The two young men passed through a vestibule 
hung with ancient coats of armour, crossed the bridge 
thrown over the moat, and soon found themselves in 
the garden of the chateau. By a tacit agreement 
they continued to walk on rapidly, as if they could 
not find a spot sufficiently solitary for the explana- 
tion that was about to take place, of the importance of 
which each seemed to be perfectly aware. As they 
were approaching the pine grove, they heard a noise of 
hasty steps behind them; they stopped, and an instant 
afterwards Mademoiselle de Kergant overtook them. 

" Pardon me, gentlemen," said she, in a breathless 
voice, " Monsieur Herve, I must speak with you." 

Herve could not repress a gesture of extreme 
vexation. 

" I must entreat you to excuse me, mademoiselle," 
said he; " you heard the request which I made to 
the — — to the duke; he has granted it, and ho 
would have a right to accuse me of discourtesy were 
I to delay " 

"The duke," interrupted Eellah, with vivacity, 
" is too courteous himself not to yield to me his turn 
of audience." 

" Assuredly," said Fleur-de-Lys, in a constrained 
voice, which was unusual to him: "Mademoiselle de 
Kergant may reckon on my absolute submission to her 
slightest wishes. But M. de Pelven would do me 
injustice if he thought he was the only one aggrieved 
by this delay." 

Bowing low after he had spoken, the young chief 
quitted the spot, and disappeared in the thickest part 
of the wood. 



150 hellaii; 

Mademoiselle de Kergant retraced her steps for a 
short distance, till she was certain of being heard by 
him alone whom she addressed. 

" Herve," said she then, stopping and laying her 
hand on his arm, " this shall not he — this cannot he!" 

" What do you mean?" said Herve, " you certainly 
mistake my intentions." 

" No more than he did; but it shall not be — no, 
even were I compelled to fetch my father and tell 
him all. Herve, do not reduce me to this terrible 
extremity, I implore you!" 

" This extremity is very useless, since a word from 
you will be sufficient to deprive me of all wish, of all 
reasonable pretext, for carrying this affair any further. 
But listen to me carefully: if you refuse to say this 
word you will deliver me with your own hands to 
certain death, for you know your father. Bellah! the 
woman whom I saw near this an hour ago with that 
young man — that woman, who was she? speak!" 

Mademoiselle de Kergant trembled; she leaned 
against the pedestal of a statue, and remained for 
some time with her head bowed, without answering, 
while her breathing was oppressed and painful. At 
last she spoke without raising her eyes — 

" That woman," said she, in a stifled voice, "was 
myself." 

" You — you! powers of heaven!" exclaimed Herve, 
starting back with a kind of horror. "Then," he 
resumed, after a short silence, "yes, I will have this 
confession from your lips — then lie is your lover?" 

Bellah, whose attitude was one of utter despair, 
hid her face in both her hands, and murmured in a 
voice scarcely audible, " yes, my lover." 

"It is well," said Herve ; " adieu! " 

" Where are vou going?" returned Mademoiselle 
de Kergant, seizing Herve 's hand with a gesture of 
distraction, "what will become of you? — what do vou 
want? — what am I to say to my father?" 



A TALE OP LA VENDEE. 157 

"Tell him that I came here as a spy; load mo 
with the vilest epithets — I care not ; your words can 
no longer dishonour any one. Farewell!" 

As he concluded, Herve gently shook off the hand 
which was laid upon his, and moved away with a 
quick step, while the distracted girl fell on her knees 
before the pedestal, her hair falling loose over her 
shoulders, her heart heaving with sobs — the image of 
a suppliant at an ancient altar. 



1 58 BELLAH 5 



& 



CHAPTER XL 



Vous ra'etes, en dormant, un peu triste apparu: 
J'ai craint qu'il ne fut vrai ; je suis vite accouru. 

La Fontaine. — Les Deux Amis. 



Pelvex sprang over a gap in the hedge which sepa- 
rated the garden from the neighbouring meadow, 
and again entered the dark avenue by the gate to 
which his horse was still fastened. The poor animal, 
forgotten among so many more engrossing events, 
gave a feeble neigh as he recognised his master's 
step, and stretched out his wearied neck to implore a 
caress. There is not a man who has not experienced 
at some time in the progress of life, one of those 
painful moments marked by treason and ingratitude, 
when a token of attachment from the humblest of 
creatures pierces to the heart, and renders the sense 
of desolation still more poignant. When the heart 
is full, little is needed to make it overflow, and Iicrve, 
murmuring some confused words, stroked the old 
companion of his perils and his battles; then seating 
himself on the neighbouring bank, he allowed a tear 
to trickle slowly down his cheek. 

After some minutes abandoned to bitter meditation, 
the young man rose, and drew himself up with 
energy, as if to oppose a firm front to fate. There 
is this advantage at least in the certainty of mis- 
fortune, that it takes away all pretext for those 
alternations of hope and fear which enervate the 



A TALE OF LA VENDEE. 159 

soul. On whichever side Herve turned his thoughts 
he met only pain, obstacles, and a sort of impossibility 
of any longer dragging on his existence. The future 
as well as the past seemed to yawn beneath his feet: 
the dreams of a life of lofty activity, of good service 
done, of glory acquired — all the noble consolations 
which can beguile one into oblivion of vanished hap- 
piness, and which are the only refuge for a wounded 
heart — all this was denied him. Against all his ex- 
pectations, his rash enterprise had saved neither his 
love nor his honour, and it had left him his life. 
Alone, and in the enemy's country, what hope had 
he now of being able to regain by some brilliant 
action the esteem of his party? Whither could he go 
— equally suspected by both sides, a traitor in the 
eyes of all? Under what tent or what hut should 
he shelter his head, devoted to vengeance as he was 
by both camps, even for one single night?" 

Lost in these torturing reflections, the young man 
had reached the farthest extremity of the avenue, when 
his ear was suddenly struck by the measured tread of 
a military detachment. Before he could put himself on 
his guard, he was surrounded by a hedge of bayonets, 
and felt the point of a sabre at his heart. 

" Yield, whoever you may be," cried an imperious 
voice. 

" Francis!" exclaimed Pelven. 

"Herve!" answered the young lieutenant, lowering 
his sabre and seizing his friend's hand — " Herve! 
heaven be praised! I never hoped to see you again 
alive." 

"Francis!" repeated Herve, in the greatest sur- 
prise, "what does all this mean? Where do you 
come from ? How were you able to reach this ? 
Who have you with you?" 

"It is us," exclaimed a hoarse voice, "the fearless 
Colibri and I, who are come to seek our colonel or 
death ; and all on account of the moral effect. 



]'-'0 BELLAII; 

" Ah! my old Bruidouxl" said Herve, " you do 
not believe then that I was a traitor?" 

" Why, colonel, were not we all taken in by that 
serpent of a Scotchwoman? Colibri was the only one, 
and he has a wonderful nose for his age, who — " 

"But in the name of heaven, Francis!" inter- 
rupted Herve, " how could you follow me so quickly 
and be able to reach this place? Where is the army 
— where is the general ? ' ' 

" A little farther off than I could wish, colonel. 
But, first of all, tell me how far you have proceeded 
in your adventure? Have you obtained admittance 
into the chateau?" 

" I have, and I have found all whom I sought. In 
everything eke I have failed completely and cruelly. 
Do not ask me more; but tell me all that has passed 
since I left you." 

Francis, leading the colonel a little aside, then in- 
formed him that, on the night following his departure, 
the republican army had changed its quarters: that 
tlie main body was already at Ploermel, while three 
battalions, among which was Herve 's own, had even 
pushed a reconnoitering party as far as the deserted 
little town through which Pelven had passed in the 
morning. The rumour ran that the forces of the 
"Whites" were concentrated a little more towards the 
north, at Pontivy. 

The general, anxious on Ilerve's account, had recom- 
mended Francis to do everything that could be done, 
without being guilty of too great imprudence, for the 
safety of their mutual friend, when the opportunity 
should present itself. Francis, finding himself only 
three short leagues from Kergant, had resolved to push 
on there by a night march: he had taken with him 
about sixty men, among whom had been included, at 
their especial request, all those who had figured as the 
emigrants' escort; and, traversing a country which ap- 
peared completely abandoned, and moreover protected 



A TAr.E OK LA VliNDEU. 1G1 

l>v the darkness, the little troop had encountered no 
obstacle. After 'giving these details, Francis asked 
the young colonel whether there was a numerous gar- 
rison in the chateau, and if they were not running 
the risk of being surrounded? Herve answered that 
he had seen no trace of a garrison either in the cha- 
teau or in its neighbourhood ; that about a dozen roy- 
alist officers had been supping there very quietly, and 
that they did not seem to have a suspicion of the ap- 
proach of the republican army. lie added some par- 
ticulars with regard to Fleur-de-Lys, whose true name 
he did not believe would justify the apprehensions of 
the general-in-chief. 

" And what do you mean to do now?" continued 
Ilerve. 

" Well, really, colonel, if things are as you describe 
them to be, I think we have no other choice than to 
lay our hand on this covey of rebels. The capture 
of Fleur-de-Lys alone is worth a victory." 

" That is impossible!" said Herve, quickly. 

" Impossible! — why? On the contrary, nothing 
is more easy, if I may judge from the information 
which you yourself have just given me. If I don't 
deceive myself, we should be failing in our duty if we 
neglected to profit by this occasion." 

" Do you pretend to teach me my duty, sir?" ex- 
claimed Pelven. 

" Colonel Herve!" said the young lieutenant, in a 
tone of pained surprise. 

" Well ! — yes — yes — I am wrong, I am wrong a 
thousand times — it is too true," returned Herve, whose 
agitation was excessive; "our duty here is in truth 
evident, incontestable; but how can I lend myself to 
this act of violence, no doubt stained with blood; and 
against whom — against my father's friend, the pro- 
tector of my childhood ! Must I go and seize upon the 
old man in his own house, in that house in which he 
has treated me so long like a son? It is impossible, 



162 BELLAH; 

Francis! And the women— must I arrest them also? 
And the young man himself, whoever he may he, is it 
for me to deliver him up? Eo! I repeat it; it is 
odious, impossible, and at the peril of my head I will 
neither do it, nor suffer it to be done." 

" I hope, colonel,'' said Francis, " to be able to 
induce you to contemplate with less repugnance the 
necessity under which we find ourselves placed. The 
general foresaw that such a difficulty might present 
itself if I met you at Kergant, and his instructions 
are calculated to meet your scruples. He has com- 
manded me, in the first place, to arrest no woman. 
As for M. de Kergant, since his name has not as yet 
been openly comj)romised in the hostile acts which 
have violated the treaties, the general leaves him free 
to cross over to England. You see that if we do 
make use of the signal advantage which fortune pre- 
sents to us, far from really injuring M. de Kergant 
we prevent him from completing his own ruin ; for 
this desperate war may at any hour annihilate both 
himself and all who belong to him." 

Ilerve gave a sign of assent. 

"And as for Fleur-de-Lvs," resumed Francis, " he 
is not a Bourbon, vou say?" 

" I am convinced lie is not." 

" In that case, whoever lie may be, he will be 
treated in the same way as any other prisoner that 
we may make ; and the general engages to look upon 
tliese as if they had surrendered voluntarily: they will 
be merely detained till the end of the war." 

" I cannot but believe you, Francis,'' said Ilerve; 
" and that being so, I must wish jou success, were 
it only for the sake of those I loved so well. Go, 
then, and do as you have said ; but in the situation 
in which I am placed I have no right to command 
your men, even if I wished it. Do your duty, I re- 
peat it; as for me, whether by so doing I perform 
mine or not, I will not go with you." 



A TALE Or LA VENDEE. 163 

Francis, though evidently annoyed at this resolu- 
tion, feared that any fresh objections might appear to 
be dictated by a suspicion unworthy of him; and 
without adding a word, he ordered his soldiers to fall 
into their ranks. But llerve suddenly changed his 
mind: it struck him that by refusing to take his part 
in the drama which was at hand, he was obeying a 
feeling of weakness rather than of honour. His pre- 
sence might at least soften the effects of a catas- 
trophe which had now become inevitable; his age and 
his rank would inspire a confidence which might be re- 
fused to the young lieutenant, and perhaps it might 
rest with him to prevent some bloody scene which 
would lay waste this almost parental home — his sister's 
asylum. Communicating these reflections to Francis, 
llerve declared that he would accompany him, but 
that he should leave him the command of the enter- 
prise, confining himself merely to being a spectator. 

The little troop then resumed its march, and only 
halted when they reached the side gate which marked 
the middle of the avenue. Thanks to the friendly 
confidence of Pelven, the young lieutenant had long- 
carried in his head an exact plan of Kergant. He 
ordered Bruidoux to cross the meadow with twenty 
grenadiers, to scale the garden hedge at the breach, 
and to occupy the entrance to the chateau on that side. 
The time-worn building, surrounded by moats, had no 
means of communication with the exterior except the 
two bridges which occupied the place of the old draw- 
bridge, and gave access, one to the garden, the other 
to the court-yard. Every means of escape was thus 
closed to the marquis and his guests. During this 
time, Pelven had unsaddled and'unbridled his horse, 
and left him at liberty in the field. 

Thus reduced to about fifty men, the republican 
column continued to advance with precaution towards 
the chateau, endeavouring to deaden as much as pos- 
sible the noise of their footsteps. At intervals, the 



10+ beixah; 

name of Fleur-de-Lys was whispered in the ranks, but 
the two young officers did not exchange a word. They 
were both dejected and melancholy: the duties of a 
soldier require the dazzling glare of danger to soften 
their repulsive features. Serve especially felt, with a 
kind of surprise, that he had not yet exhausted all 
the anguish of which his heart was capable. The 
horrors of civil war, and the painful combinations 
which it produces, had never yet appeared to him in 
such a mournful light : it was in vain that he called 
up all the powers of his reason to subdue his rebel- 
lious feelings, that he invoked the testimony of his 
conscience and his loyalty. When he perceived the 
turrets of the old manor-house, when he entered the 
precincts of the court-yard, he could not repress a 
groan, and seized his friend's arm with a convulsive 
movement. 

" This is a terrible moment, Francis!" said he. 

The young lieutenant pressed his hand in silence, 
and ordered his men to quicken their pace. 

So complete was the security in which the inhabi- 
tants of the chateau were wrapped, that the detach- 
ment crossed the bridge unperceived. The door was 
open; about a dozen steps led up from the entrance 
to the vestibule. Francis, leaving the half of his 
force in the court-yard, quickly mounted the stairs, 
accompanied by Pelven and followed by the remaining 
soldiers. 

Two or three servants who were loitering there, 
struck with dismay at this sudden invasion, did not 
even attempt resistance. Francis, having assured 
himself that Bruidoux was in possession of the post 
assigned to him, recommended him to use no violence, 
but to allow no one to pass out; then, escorted by 
a few soldiers, he entered the apartments leading 
to the drawing-room, which, as he had seen from the 
outside, were still brilliantly illuminated. The youno- 
lieutenant, actuated by a feeling unnecessary to ex- 



A TALE OF I>A V UNDUE. 1G5 

]>lain, took all his measures without addressing a 
-ingle word to Herve, who walked by his side like a 
shadow. In the great hall where the supper had 
taken place, they met the forester Kado, who at the 
sight of the bayonets remained like one petrified, his 
mouth open and utterly mute. 

"Kado," said Ilerve, breaking the mournful silence 
which he had hitherto maintained, and speaking in a 
low voice, "no noise, no useless struggle. They are 
masters of the chateau!" 

"Heavens!" murmured Kado, "is it possible, 
M. Herve! can it be you, you, who — ■" 

"Silence! and unite your efforts with mine to 
prevent greater misfortunes. Every one's life is 
safe. Who is in there?" and Herve pointed to the 
neighbouring saloon. 

' ' All the ladies, the poor ladies, and M. le Mar- 
quis." 

"The rest?" 

" They are all gone — except M. George and — • 
heavens! — is it possible, M. Herve?" 

" And Fleur-de-Lys?" asked Herve. 

The forester wrung his hands in despair. 

" If the lieutenant will permit," Herve resumed, 
" Kado might precede us, in order that we may ter- 
rify those unhappy women less." 

" Enter, Kado," answered Francis. 

Kado seemed to hesitate, then upon an expressive 
sign from Herve, he opened the door of the saloon. 
But he stopped at the threshold, his eyes wandering 
over the group of women, as if he could find no words 
wherewith to address them. At last, in the tone of 
a judge pronouncing sentence of death — 

"The Blues!" said he. 

This word was answered by a feeble cry of terror, 
which pierced through Herve's heart: it was Andree's 
plaintive voice. The other women repressed all out- 
ward expression of the horror which blanched their 



1C6 bellah; 

countenances. Fleur-de-Lys and George, who were 
in fact the only guests still present, plunged their 
hands into their breasts, while M. de Kergant snatch- 
ing up his sabre from a corner of the chimney-piece, 
sprang forward ; but the door was already blocked 
up by a rampart of soldiers, and the two republican 
officers with sheathed sabres and bare heads, entered 
the saloon. 

" Gentlemen," said Francis, " the chateau is sur- 
rounded. You are my prisoners." 

A moment's silence followed this declaration. 
Andree, when she perceived her brother, stretched 
out her arms to him with an agonized expression, 
then her pallid features drooped upon her shoulder, and 
the innocent victim sank gently down, like a flower 
whose stalk has been severed by the scythe. Herve 
sprang forward to support her; but Bellah was before 
him, and with the help of Alix she placed the 
inanimate form of her adopted sister upon a seat: 
she then approached a window, which she half opened. 

Pelven turned towards the marquis. 

" This misfortune, sir," he said "is not my work. 
I could neither foresee it nor prevent it. I cannot 
hope that you will do justice to the feeling which has 
strengthened mo to face the bitter trials which I 
anticipate. I only think it right to say that I have 
no command here, no power but that of entreaty. I 
implore you, sir, not to aggravate the blow which 
threatens you, by a useless resistance. liely upon 
the word of this young officer, who enjoys the full 
confidence of the commander-in-chief." 

" And who shall answer to me for your honour — 
you, who answer to me for his?" said the marquis. 

"Speak, Francis," resumed Herve, "but respect 
those who have no power to reply to an insult." 

Pelven then retired a little on one side, and stood 
immoveable, leaning against the wall, as if determined 
to take no further part in whatever might happen. 



A TALE OF LA VENDEE. 1G7 

" Gentlemen," said Francis in his turn, after 
having signed to the soldiers to leave the saloon, 
" I should have hesitated to take this mission 
upon me, had not the generosity of the commander- 
in-chief lightened its burden. These are the con- 
ditions which he has permitted me to offer to you." 

The young lieutenant then informed the royalist 
chiefs, who did not hear the intelligence without 
some signs of surprise, of the consideration with 
which he had been recommended to treat the women, 
and the moderation which Hoche intended to use to- 
wards all his prisoners. 

"Nevertheless, gentlemen," added Francis, "I 
must warm you that our general has not sufficient 
power to dispose as he pleases of any member of the 
late royal family; whether this reservation concerns 
any among you, you yourselves only know." 

Francis having ceased to speak, the marquis held 
a short conference in an under tone with his two 
guests, and Fleur-de-Lys then answered the republi- 
can officer. 

" No magnanimous action performed by your noble 
general, sir, can appear incredible to us. His word, 
we know, is as good as his bond. Unfortunately, we 
also know that there is a power above him which can 
force him, however bound by his word, to yield up 
his captives. Now this is a risk which these gentle- 
men and I are decided not to run. Kado, give us 
your help!" 

The forester, yielding to this appeal, passed over to 
his master's side. 

"Am I to understand, sir," asked Francis, " that 
you entertain the mad design — " 

" Of defending ourselves ? Yes, sir. The struggle 
is unequal we know, but soldiers generally fight ill 
when deprived of their chiefs." 

As he spoke, Fleur-de-Lys calmly placed his 
naked sword under his left arm, and drew from his 



1G8 bellaii; 

breast a pistol, which he cocked. His three com- 
panions followed his example. At this threatening 
movement, Mademoiselle de Kergant and the forester's 
daughter fell upon their knees beside the chair on 
which lay the still fainting Andree. Francis made 
a step backward, seizing one of the pistols in his 
belt; a shade of anxiety passed over his features, and 
he threw a hasty glance at Herve; but he, still lean- 
ing against the wall, his arms crossed upon his breast, 
preserved his calm and apparently indifferent at- 
titude. 

The grenadiers, who were in the adjoining hall, 
attracted by the sound of fire-arms, again thronged 
the entrances. 

" Stand on one side, lieutenant," cried one of the 
soldiers; " you will hinder our fire." 

"Gentlemen!" said Francis, in an altered voice, 
"I conjure you again, if you have any humanity, 
any feeling of pity for these unhappy women — '' 

" George!" interrupted Fleur-de-Lys, with terrible 
vivacity, "you will answer that gentleman." Then 
turning abruptly towards Herve, " Colonel Pelven," 
continued he, ' ' take care of yourself, in heaven's 
name !" 

Herve shook his head quietly but did not move. 
Fleur-de-Lys stepped back a few paces; a strange 
smile curled his lips, showing his small white teeth, 
and giving an almost ferocious expression to his 
countenance, he raised his pistol with determination, 
but his hand sank suddenly as if struck with palsy, 
and the weapon fell upon the floor. A sound, inex- 
plicable at this dreadful moment — the sound of a peal 
of laughter, loud, prolonged — simultaneously stayed 
every hand and froze every heart. 

"It is my sister!" said M. de Kergant, in a low 
voice, breaking the profound silence which had suc- 
ceeded to the previous tumult. 

All eyes anxiously followed the direction pointed 



A TAT,E OF I,A VENDEE. 1 GO 

out by the trembling hand of the old man. The 
canoness, standing in the embrasure of the window 
which had been opened to give air to Andrec, ap- 
peared to be looking out fixedly; she continued to 
laugh, but her laughter was at times interrupted by 
sobs. Suddenly she turned round, and advancing to- 
wards her brother with a quick disturbed step — 

" Why don't you laugh?" said she; "you are all 
very strange. Have you never seen a wedding before? 
As soon as the violins come we shall dance: they 
won't be long, for the bridegroom has set out; it is 
not far off, and he is young. These gentlemen are 
invited, I suppose — 'relations, doubtless. Our rela- 
tionships in Brittany are extensive. I will tell the 
king. John, place chairs. Gentlemen, I did not 
mean to offend you. A lovely night. I think it 
would be pleasanter dancing in the open air, and then 
there is no air here. Air — yes. I do not know what 
is the matter? Oh heavens!" 

The voice of the old lady was lost in a fearful 
rattle ; her head fell back, she uttered a piercing cry, 
and fell senseless into her brother's arms. 

As if paralysed by the cruel scene, republicans and 
royalists followed all its details with eyes full of pity, 
forgetting both the attack and the defence. Even 
George's energetic countenance wore marks of irreso- 
lution and dismay. Fleur-deLys exchanged a few 
rapid words with the rough partisan, then, shrug- 
ging his shoulders with a resigned air, he advanced 
towards Francis — 

"Here are my arms, sir," said he. " There has 
been grief enough for one night. We are ready to 
follow you. M. de Kergant will agree with me, I 
am certain." 

The marquis, turning his head a little round, gave 
a sign of approbation. Francis expressed with 
politeness the sorrow he felt at having been the 
cause of this family misfortune : it grieved him 



170 BELLAH; 

deeply, he said, to be compelled to increase them 
still more by tearing M. de Kergant away from such 
sacred duties; but he could not defer his departure 
a moment longer without failing in his duty. He 
announced, at the same time, that none but Fleur-de- 
Lys, George, and the marquis, need accompany him; 
that the other inhabitants of the chateau were free to 
remain there, but that they would be prisoners for a 
few hours, since the bridges over the moat must be 
broken after the departure of the detachment, to pre- 
vent the alarm being given in the country. The 
young lieutenant ordered his soldiers immediately to 
proceed to break down the bridge leading into the 
garden. 

During these explanations the canoness had been 
restored to consciousness; but the strange and inco- 
herent answers which she gave to her brother's anxious 
inquiries testified that her brain was still disordered. 
The very gentleness of her insanity gave some cause 
to fear that it would be lasting. In another part of 
the saloon Andrec was hanging round Ilerve's neck, 
and, leaning her head against the young man's breast, 
she gave free course to her silent grief. 

Perceiving that Flcur-de-Lys and George were 
already in the next room, M. de Kergant turned hastily 
towards Francis — 

" Shall I be permitted to see my family, sir?" 

" I have no doubt of it." 

" Then," said the marquis, "no farewells;" and lie 
left the saloon. 

r el von, without uttering a single word, lifted 
Andrec in his arms and laid her upon the sofa near 
which Bcllah was standing. Before he left the room 
ho fixed his eyes upon Mademoiselle de Kergant, 
pointing as he did so to the half fainting form of his 
sister, and then rejoined Francis, who had assembled 
all his men in the vestibule. 

Kaclo would not abandon his master, and followed 



A TALE OF LA VENDEE. 171 

the detachment out of the chateau with the three 
other prisoners. While the soldiers were throwing 
the planks which formed the bridge into the moat, 
Francis asked Fleur-de-Lys to give him his word that 
he would not attempt an escape. Fleur-de-Lys an- 
wcred, laughing, that on the contrary lie would give 
him his word to use every opportunity he could to 
effect it. 

" So much the worse then, sir," returned Francis; 
"for you will compel me to use a strict surveillance 
over you." 

A double file of grenadiers immediately formed 
around the caj)tives, and by way of additional pre- 
caution, each prisoner was placed under the special 
guard of a soldier, wdio received the most rigorous 
instructions respecting him. After these arrange- 
ments had been made, the signal for departure was 
given, and the column moved down the avenue. 

Lieutenant Francis, a little vain in his secret heart 
of the success of this expedition, and relieved of the 
greater part of the anxiety it had caused him, led 
the march with a joyous step, breathing the fresh 
night air with pleasure, and slashing the shrubbery 
as he went along with his sabre. Herve, wrapped 
in his cloak, walked by his side in a more reflec- 
tive mood. In about half an hour they reached 
the banks of a stream which ran from west to east, 
on the left of the road which the detachment was 
pursuing. 

" If I am not mistaken, colonel," said Francis, 
breaking a silence of which he began to be weary, 
"this river is the same which crosses the village 
where our battalions of the advanced guard are 
quartered. You must have all this country at your 
finger ends?" 

Herve replied that his conjecture was right, and 
that the road which bordered the river led them 
direct to the little town through which he had himself 



1 72 13ELLAII ; 

passed in the morning; adding, that it was very true 
that the recollections of his childhood brought before 
him every minute detail of the country. 

" It seems to me," said Francis, " that you might 
now resume the command." 

" No, that I will not, my dear Francis; you acquit 
yourself of it too well. You have conducted the 
whole affair most capitally." 

' ' Upon my word, colonel, chance has been my 

best friend, much more than Well, thank 

heaven, all has ended as happily as possible!" 

" I wish it may," said Pelven. 

" How? Have you remarked anything suspicious?" 

" What do you think, Francis, of the old lady's 
sudden fit of madness?" 

" Do you think it was acted?" exclaimed Francis. 

"Perhaps it was half acted, half real — women have 
that wonderful gift ; but till we have reached the end 
of our journey in safety, I shall fear lest that incident 
may have been the signal for some mysterious warning 
being given — ' ' Herve interrupted himself upon seeing 
a flickering light passing over the leaves of the trees 
which lined the road. 

" What light is that?" said Francis, going up to 
the soldiers. 

" Nothing, lieutenant," answered Bruidoux; "the 
prisoners are merely lighting their pipes." 

Francis was satisfied with this explanation of the 
occurrence, and concluded that George and Kado, 
who were still enclosed in the ranks of the escort, had 
merely wished to solace themselves with the innocent 
amusement of smoking. In the thick darkness these 
two glowing points threw an intermittent light over 
the group of captives. 

The young lieutenant now rejoined Pelven. The 
road which the column had been painfully climbing 
for the last few minutes, wound, as it ascended, round 
the foot of an amphitheatre of hills clothed with trees 



a tali: op i,a VKNDEIi. 1 7."> 

and brushwood, whilst on the opposite side it was 
bounded by the now steep hanks of the river. 

"I am sorry," said Francis, looking round him 
anxiously, " that I did not follow the other bank of 
the stream as I did in coming, although it would have 
lengthened the way. This defile looks very ugly, and 
that hill to the right is as black as Erebus; besides, 
I don't know whether it is a humming in my ears, or 
whether it is the murmur of the river, or the sough of 
the wind, but don't you hear a kind of rustling in the 
thicket?" 

" Cause the prisoners to cease smoking," said 
Ilerve quickly. 

Francis turned to give the order; but before he had 
taken a step a triple report lighted up the road and 
surrounding hills with a sudden flash, while at the 
same moment a loud shout rose from the heights 
which commanded the defile. Three of the men who 
guarded the prisoners had fallen; George stretched 
the fourth upon the ground with a blow from his fist, 
and with his head lowered like a furious bull dashed 
down the side of the hill, breaking the hedge of gre- 
nadiers and opening the way for his companions, who 
disappeared after him in the obscurity of the brush- 
wood. A fresh tempest of cries now burst forth from 
the hill, but were instantly silenced, while a few shots 
fired at random by the republicans took no effect on 
their opponents. The theatre of this unexpected at- 
tack had been well chosen. It was the highest spot 
of the defile. A little farther on, the way was barred 
by a black moving mass which had rushed down the 
bank like a torrent, while the hollow murmur which 
resounded from the hills, like the noise of a stormy 
sea, betrayed that they were still occupied by a con- 
siderable force. The republicans felt that they were 
lost if they made a single step backwards in the face 
of this double line of enemies, and Herve's first 
idea was to march forward and force his way with 



1 74 BELLAH ; 

the bayonet through the living barrier which blocked 
up the road ; but he reflected that before he could 
reach them he should have lost two-thirds of his men 
under the downward fire from the hills, and the order 
was not given. 

On the side opposite the woods, the road, which at 
this place stretched out in a half-circle forming a 
sort of promontory, was bounded by a rocky cliff 
which rose precipitously to the height of about thirty 
feet from the bed of the river. On this little cape a 
few thick trees and a copse of thorny bushes added 
their dark shade to that of the night. It was in 
the depth of this impenetrable shadow that the grena- 
diers, in the first moment of surprise, had sought a 
refuge for their disordered ranks. Here with their 
backs to the precipice, and huddled like cattle upon 
this little spot of ground, they waited in silence for 
their invisible enemy. 

" Lieutenant Francis," said Herve, loud enough to 
be heard by all the soldiers, " I now resume the 
command." 

"That's all right," murmured Bruidoux; "I am 
delighted to hear it. Not that I wish to affront the 
lieutenant, who is the making of a capital man; but 
here, or never, mille bombes ! we need a full-grown 
one." 

Ilerve now ordered the soldiers to form into three 
ranks, facing the slope; then approaching the preci- 
pice, at the bottom of which the river was foaming, 
he examined with extraordinary attention the steep 
descent of the precipice, after which lie returned and 
placed himself beside Francis, in the flank of the 
detachment. 

" To be drowned or shot, is not that the choice?" 
asked Francis, laconically. 

" Silence! Hark!" answered Herve. 

Fleur-de-Lys's clarion voice was heard ringing 
from the thicket. 



A TALE OF LA VENDEE. 175 

"Colonel Pelven," said he, "you can hear me, 
can von not?" 

" Yes, sir," answered Herve, advancing' to an ex- 
posed position on the road, in front of his little 
troop. 

"You are surrounded, sir," continued Fleur-dc- 
Lys. " With the forces which I command I can cut 
you off to the last man, without the loss of a single 
one on our side, and I shall certainly do so, if you 
compel me. Wo are well aware of your bravery, and 
your attachment to your duty, hut duty is limited by 
impossibility; so yield yourselves prisoners." 

" In my peculiar position, sir," answered Herve, 
" I cannot give you an answer without consulting with 
my lieutenant. Will you give me time to do so?" 

" Certainly, sir," said Fleur-de-Lys ; " we are in 
no hurry." 

Herve then rejoined the young lieutenant, and 
dragging him hastily to the edge of the escarpe- 
ment — 

"Pay attention to what I say," said he — the sol- 
diers meantime listening in the most profound silence — 
" we must make these fellows a return for their 
pleasantry about the lavandieres. To save both our 
honour and our lives we only require to accomplish 
what I have done myself twenty times over in this 
very spot as a boyish bravado, and thanks to the 
darkness and to the shade of these trees, all our 
movements here are concealed from the enemy. 
You see this fissure in the rocks; for two-thirds of 
the descent it forms a kind of rude staircase, with a 
balustrade of the roots of trees; after that, you will 
find only a perpendicular descent as smooth as a 
board; but let yourselves slip boldly down, you will 
drop upon a narrow tongue of sand which extends 
along the foot of the cliff. Then enter the river 
straight before you, and cross it: there is a ford, and 
the water will not reach higher than your knees, or to 



your waist if the river is full. Let every one keep his 
ranks till his turn comes. The serjeant will see to 
it that no man begins to descend till the one before 
him is out of sight. As for me, I shall treat with 
them as long as I can, to gain time. Be cool, my 
lads. The lieutenant will show you the way. Hold 
fast by the roots, Francis." 

Francis attempted to speak, but Herve imposed 
obedience by a gesture, and a moment afterwards the 
young lieutenant had disappeared over the side of the 
precipice. One of the soldiers instantly followed. 
This strange manoeuvre, and this sudden prospect 
of deliverance, inspired the grenadiers with fresh 
spirits, while Bruidoux, kneeling on the edge of the 
rock, accompanied each departure with a burlesque 
adieu — • 

"A happy journey to you! Don't forget all man- 
ner of kind things to your friends, my youngster! 
Don't let her forget me, mv boy! Don't you stare 
nlxmt on the journev, you fellow! Take care you 
don't soil vour new coat, citizen! Shall you write to 
us when you get there — eh, (\>libri<"' 

Although this singular plan required but a few 
minutes to explain and put in action, Herve feared 
to excite suspicion by a longer delay; and desiring 
Bruidoux tu inform him as soon as the front rank 
alone should he left, he returned and placed himself 
in the middle of the road. 

"Sir," said lie. raising his voice, "this is all I can 
propose: I will surrender at discretion on condition 
that my lieutenant and his soldiers shall have liberty 
to rejoin their corps unmolested." 

"You cannot be serious, colonel," said Flcur-de- 
Lvs. "When the whole is in our hands, we cannot 
he satisfied with a part, however important or pre- 
cious that part may be." 

" 1 thank you for your civility, sir," said Herve, 
who asked nothing better than to prolong the parley; 



A TALE OF J,A VENDEE. 177 

" I thank you, as far as 1 am concerned; but if you 
are too exacting you will not have such a cheap bar- 
gain of us as you seem to hope. It is never wise to 
drive an enemy to desj)air, however weak he may 
appear." 

" I repeat, sir," answered Fleur-de-Lys, in a more 
abrupt and menacing voice, "that this is no child's 
play. Have you nothing more to say?" 

" What conditions would you give us, supposing 
we were to surrender?" 

"Your lives; provided you pledge yourselves to 
serve under the king's banner." 

"I wish your king may get us," muttered Brui- 
doux, who now came up and touched Herve's arm. 
" There is only the front rank left, colonel." 

"Let them prepare to answer the enemy's fire," 
said Herve; then retiring a few steps — "Monsieur 
Fleur-de-Lys," he resumed, "that would entail dis- 
honour on us, and we refuse to surrender." 

" Ho! les gars/" cried Fleur-de-Lys instantly, in 
a voice of thunder — " Fire! upon the esplanade!" 

The hill was at once lighted up with a girdle 
of flame, and a loud report re-echoed through the 
valley. By the momentary light thus afforded, the 
Chouans perceived the front line of the republicans 
with their muskets raised to their shoulders in the 
act of firing, and they did not suspect the disappear- 
ance of the others. Pelvenhad foreseen this terrible 
consequence; but reckoning on the uncertain aim 
which must be taken in the dark, and upon the dis- 
persion of his men among the trees, he had preferred 
running this risk to allowing the enemy to learn too 
soon the secret of his escape. Only three grenadiers 
fell. 

"Fire! my lads!" exclaimed Herve, "and then 
save yourselves." 

The republican party returned the fire, and imme- 
diately ran to the edge of the cliff with a readiness 



I 78 bellaii ; 

which, under the circumstances, may easily be con- 
ceived. Bruidoux insisted on not leaving his colonel, 
but he received an imperious order to follow his 
comrades. 

Herve, left alone in the midst of a darkness ren- 
dered still denser by the clouds of smoke, turned to- 
wards the bank, and raising his voice, exclaimed— 

" Gentlemen royalists, my lieutenant and I will 
yield without conditions." 

"Cry, Vive le jRoi/" answered Fleur-de-Lys. 
" Cry, I entreat you, for you are a brave fellow 
after all!" 

Herve threw a hasty glance behind him, but fancy- 
ing he still saw two or three shadows on the top of 
the rock, the intrepid young man faced the enemy 
again — 

" To save the rest of my men — " said he. 

"Cry Vive le Roi/" repeated Fleur-de-Lys. " You 
will not? Well then, Fire!" and a fresh report 
resounded through the rocks. Pelven heard the 
ominous shower of lead whistling round him, but 
the bullets respected that generous breast. The 
flash, however, had betrayed to the Chouans that the 
esplanade was deserted. 

" What is this?" exclaimed Fleur-de-Lys, loudly. 
"By all the saints, they have escaped us!" 

"Yes, sir, and Vi ve la Bepub/iqiie!" shouted Pelven; 
then waving his sword in all the maddening excitement 
of danger and triumph, he sprang down the side of the 
abyss which had previously swallowed up his compa- 
nions. Before he reached the bottom several shots were 
fired above his head, and splinters of rock flew around 
him on all sides, but lie dropped safe and sound upon 
the sandy strip which bordered the river. A few mi- 
nutes afterwards a noisy and joyous acclamation from 
the opposite bank informed the Chouans, who were 
grouped in a dense mass on the crest of the cliff, 
that Colonel Herve was in safety amongst his men. 



A TALE OF LA VEXIlKK. ] 7(1 

Before Pclvcn even put Lis foot on tlio shore, 
Francis had thrown himself upon his neck, and the 
two young men embraced each other with the warmest 
affection. After a momentary pause of expectation, 
the little republican troop was satisfied that the 
" Whites," frightened at the difficulty of the pas- 
sage, had given up the pursuit, and they started off 
across the fields at a rapid pace. 



180 bellah; 



CHAPTER XII. 



1 My Father. — Truly, Trim, I am highly satisfied with you. 
Doctor Slop And I likewise." — Stekne. 



The civil wars of the West had often disconcerted the 
most clever and experienced military commanders; on 
the royalist side they were conducted by raw captains, 
who, day by day, invented tactics without precedent, 
suited to the different localities, to the inequalities of 
the country, and to the peculiar genius of their soldiers 
— thus supplying the want of experience by invention, 
and of method by audacity. The republican army, 
after its forced march to I'loermel, had remained there 
inactive and anxious, its arm raised over a desert, 
while several recoimoitering parties made in the envi- 
rons had been attended with no result. Two or three 
battalions had overrun the country in the direction of 
the coast for several leagues; but they had found every 
place either deserted or tranquil, and no appearance 
confirmed the rumour which now began to gain ground, 
that a body of royalists was about to land under the 
protection of English camion. The number, the 
movements, and even the position of the insurgent 
forces were the subjects of vague and contradictory 
reports, which threw the general-in-chief into a strange 
state of perplexity. Men of great military genius 
never take the command in these undisciplined wars 
but with repugnance, just as an adept in fencing 
never likes to cross his blade with a resolute novice 



A TALE OP LA VENDEE. 181 

whose unforeseen daring puts to nought all the com- 
binations of art. 

Since the hold and sudden blow which the Breton 
insui-o-ents had struck, as if to celebrate with bril- 
liancy the arrival of their new captain, and to give 
him the opportunity to win his sword of command, 
they had not again shown themselves in the field, 
till the time when, as we have seen, they had all 
assembled to deliver Pleur-de-Lys and his companions. 

A republican brigade despatched in pursuit of them 
at dawn of day, had only seen about twenty peasants 
at work in their fields, or seated on the thresholds of 
their cottages. These good people revealed in con- 
fidence to the soldiers that they thought they had 
heard the noise of musketry about one o'clock in the 
morning, and they begged them therefore to be on 
their guard. The officers had some difficulty in pre- 
venting these honest folks being ill-treated. The party 
proceeded about two leagues further to the north, and 
beyond Kergant, which was found without inhabi- 
tants; and some of the cavalry, who had galloped as 
far as Pontivy, reported that the " Whites " had not 
been there, so the brigade after this useless march 
returned to Ploermel. 

Amongst the singular rumours of the town, that 
which the general had at first heard with the most 
incredulity, declared that the vast forest of La Nouee, 
which stretches for five leagues to the north-west of 
Ploermel, on the borders of Morbihan, was the 
refuge of the royalist army. Such retreats had 
more than once during the late campaigns afforded 
shelter to the broken ranks of the Breton and Ven- 
dean troops ; but it was hard to conceive that a 
victorious army, master of the whole country, could 
have deliberately thrown itself into the depths of a 
forest — of all its conquests thus keeping possession 
only of the most insignificant, if not of the most dan- 
gerous position. 



182 'bellah; 

But when the expeditions that had scoured the 
interior and the coast-line of the country, returned 
without success, the general, yielding to the public 
clamour, however unreasonable it appeared, proceeded 
himself with a strong detachment to reconnoitre the 
approach.es to the suspected forest. Contrary to all 
his expectations, what he saw left no doubt in his 
mind as to the enemy being there. All the roads in 
the direction of La Nouee were cut up by recent traces 
of the passage of a large force, while the marks of 
wheels and the foot-prints of animals had ploughed 
up the soil and levelled the fences all round the forest; 
in addition to which the ground was strewn over with 
fragments of clothing, broken furniture, and shat- 
tered waggons. The general halted upon a height, 
and fixed his thoughtful glance upon the sombre 
mass of wood to which all these indications pointed. 
He fancied he heard a distant murmur proceed from 
it, like the hum of some huge hive. Two companies 
were ordered to advance to the outskirts of the 
forest, but they were repulsed by a sharp fire. The 
enemy were there without doubt, and did not appear 
particularly anxious to conceal that fact, provided 
only that their designs should remain impenetrable. 
They left the trap open and visible, but concealed the 
springs ; they did not refuse to fight, but they chose 
to do so at their own time, after their own fashion, 
and on the field that suited them best. 

The gencral-in-chief returned to his quarters ; the 
knowledge he had acquired had only increased his 
anxiety, for the object of this unheard-of manoeuvre 
escaped all his conjectures; while the information which 
he received from the interior or from the towns on the 
coast, as well as from the representatives who scoured 
the country, gave him no light upon this head. 
Treachery helped him no better : traitors had always 
been scarce among the Bretons, and they now became 
still more so, since the fortune of war seemed to 



A TALE OF LA VENDEE. 183 

have gone over to their side. A few spies, indeed, 
ventured into the mysterious forest, hut none returned. 

The general could not submit, without too mani- 
fest disadvantage, to the conditions which the enemy 
offered him, and he hesitated before that unknown 
danger which is always the most formidable. 

Four days elapsed in this state of indecision: the 
republican army had extended its line over a space 
of three leagues, from Ploermel to the river of which 
we have more than once spoken, and the little town 
which guarded its passage. One more topographical 
detail is indispensable to enable the reader to under- 
stand the events which we have still to relate : and 
it is necessary for this purpose to attend to the 
relative position of the three points between which 
the interest, if interest there is, of the facts which 
will almost complete our tale, is divided. We beg 
him then to bear in mind that Ploermel on the east 
and Kergant on the west, form two points of an 
almost equilateral triangle, of which the forest of La 
Kouee is the apex towards the north. 

The axe of the woodcutters had not at that time 
cut out of the southern side of the forest that large 
slice which at the present day diminishes its extent, 
and detracts from its majesty. The tall waving woods 
then stretched over all that land, now stripped of its 
trees, and in which the hum of industry has replaced 
the silence of solitude. 

It was towards this part of the forest that on the 
evening of the 22nd of June, two persons of the most 
miserable aspect were making their way. One of 
them was a beggar whose progress was impeded by 
his age and infirmities. lie was guided and sup- 
ported by a young girl, whose .figure might have 
been thought singular for a woman, but fatigue and 
misery perhaps had altered its fair proportions. 
This unhappy creature had wrapped over her ragged 
petticoat the remains of a hooded cloak, which 



184 bell ah; 

partly concealed features rendered repulsive by their 
heavy and, at the same time, cunning expression. 
The old man, in the complicated arrangement 
of his rags, presented the sordid and picturesque 
type of the ancient beggar, a race which now-a-days 
is vanishing like so many others; while a kind of 
coquetry, derived from the " Court of Miracles," had 
skilfully arranged upon his person a number of rags 
without any positive form or colour. One of his legs 
seemed to be paralysed at the knee, and was sup- 
ported on a wooden crutch bound with iron, while to 
add to his miseries, or to complete the effect, the 
honest man was blind. The sun, already inclining to 
the horizon, bordered with a golden fringe the dark 
masses of a stormy sky, and the shadows of the old 
oaks were thrown long down the glades, when this 
unfortunate couple stopped at the entrance of a path 
which led straight into the forest. In spite of the 
shade afforded by the trees and the late hour of the 
day, the heat was stifling ; no breeze stirred the 
leaves, and at distant intervals a prolonged roll of 
thunder was heard, while flocks of crows flew from 
tree to tree uttering cries of alarm. 

" I have been a little in the naval line in my day," 
said the ragged old man, " and I can tell you, my 
pretty maiden, that wo shall have a heavy storm to- 
night." 

The pretty maiden, who was decidedly the least 
attractive person of her sex, made no answer; her 
eyes, which were fixed on the forest, seemed to mea- 
sure its depths with an air of painful abstraction. 
The old beggar pulled his companion by the skirt of 
her cloak, and making her sit down by his side on a 
bank covered with moss, he spoke to her in a low 
voice for some minutes, seeming sometimes to scold 
her severely, and at others to favour her with pater- 
nal exhortations and instructions. After this con- 
ference, the old man rose resolutely and entered the 



A TALE OP LA VENDEE. 185 

forest, limping as he went, and leaning on his 
conductor's arm. 

They had not gone fifty yards when three men fell 
down upon them suddenly, like ripe fruit, from the 
neighbouring trees, while at the same moment, a dozen 
individuals armed with muskets issued from the under- 
wood and surrounded the adventurous couple. The 
ambuscading party could easily be recognised for 
Breton insurgents by their long locks and their jackets 
of hairy goat-skin. 

" Who are you, and where are you going to?" 
said he who seemed the chief. 

"My child!" said the blind man, "there are no 
' Blues' here, are there?" 

" No, father," replied the tall girl in the hood, in 
a trembling nasal whine. " They are all honest men. 
You may speak out. Is it not so, gentlemen?" 

"Let him speak," said the Chouan; "we arc 
listening." 

" Are you sure you are not taken in, child?" said 
the beggar; " the servants of heaven and the king 
don't in general speak so roughly to the poor man." 

" The times are bad, my honest fellow," said the 
Chouan, " and the devil is cunning." 

"Yes, my son, and distrust is in fashion now. 
Let me touch your clothes, I beg, to make sure, for 
my poor eyes have long ceased to look on this world." 
The old man felt the Chouan's breast with his hand. 
"The heart and the cross," continued he; "that's 
well. Vive le Roi! my children. Where is Fleur- 
de-Lys? — whom may St. Ives and all the saints 
defend! Where is he? I must speak with him." 

" Fleur-de-Lys has no time to lose with you, my 
venerable." 

" And he won't lose any with me, my good fellow, 
I assure you. Lead me to him; I have travelled a 
long way with my poor little maiden, who is still 
shaking with fever, and I should like to rest extremely; 



186 bellah; 

but the king's service before all. We shall soon 
have his august reign again, my children! On my 
life, they may bury me then as soon as they please!" 

"You chatter too much, father," said the com- 
panion of the old fanatic, in a vexed and impatient 
tone; "you know we were told there was no time to 
be lost." 

"Yes, in verity, good maiden, you are right. 
Where is Fleur-de-Lys? I have something for him 
— something which has passed under the very noses 
of the 'Blues.' " 

The old man began to laugh, and plunging his 
hand into the labyrinth of his rags, drew out a packet 
of letters carefully sealed, the envelope marked in one 
corner with a peculiar sign in the form of a cross 
studded with fleurs-de-lys. The chief of the horde 
of Chouans hesitated no longer, and telling the two 
adventurers to follow him, he led the way into the 
defiles of the forest. 

They were soon stopped by a barrier of felled trees, 
behind which was encamped a band of about a hun- 
dred men. They were allowed to pass this post upon 
the pass-word being given by their conductor. A little 
farther on a fresh barricade had to be penetrated, 
the forest appearing to be defended in every direction 
by fortifications of this nature, some of them even 
surrounded by ditches. In every open sj>ot numerous 
bodies of insurgents were bivouacking; the greater 
number with no other military costume than the 
Breton peasants' vest, crossed scarf-wise with bands 
of serge which served as bandoliers. Almost all of 
them were shod with heavy wooden shoes filled with 
straw. Women and children mingled with the 
soldiers and did the cooking for the bivouacs, moving- 
round the fires which were crackling on the ground. 

The whole forest seemed converted into a rude town. 
Here and there groups of armed peasants were lyino- 
on the grass amidst flocks of sheep or goats, oxen 



A TALE OF LA VENDEE. 187 

bellowed in the glades, while a confused murmur of 
voices, the clash of arms and noise of footsteps, rose 
incessantly from under its leafy arcades, now swelling 
to a hoarse roar, and again sinking to a low hum. Had 
it not been for the costumes and the European cha- 
racter of the vegetation, one might have imagined it 
an oasis of the desert filled with some wanderina - 
warrior tribe. 

After an half-hour's march, delayed by these fre- 
quent obstacles, the guide informed the old beggar that 
they were almost at the end of their painful journey; 
and as he spoke he quitted the thicket, in which 
he said it was now not safe to take one single step 
farther, and entered an alley about six or seven feet 
wide, above which the branches, bent down and inter- 
woven, formed a kind of ceiling. Under this archway 
the twilight could scarcely penetrate, and the silence 
which reigned in this privileged part of the forest 
rendered the sudden darkness still more striking. 
The blind man felt his companion's hand tremble. 

"What is the matter?" said he, in a low voice, 
while their guide preceded them at some distance. 
" What kind of moral force is this you are exhibiting ?" 

" Serjeant," answered the girl in the same tone, 
" I am troubled, and at times my heart fails me." 

" That is a queer kind of moral force," answered 
the old man; "come, hold firm, and march straight 
forward, my boy! Picture to yourself that this odious 
wood is, as one may say, the ci-devant Temple of 
Glory." 

" Of glory, serjeant?" 

" And of memory, too, my friend. Would you 
like your name to figure in history in letters of gold, 
or merely of tin- foil, that is the question?" 

" In tin-foil, serjeant." 

" How? the devil! in tin foil! What is the creature 
thinking of ? Hallo! what is this machine here? A 
cannon, on my word! What an infernal forest! No 



e> 



188 BEIXAH; 

pawnbroker's shop — " The honest man muttered 
the rest of the sentence between his teeth. 

The guide now stopped, and in a subdued voice 
began questioning two sentinels who were posted at 
the end of this strange avenue, while the last fading 
rays of daylight allowed our adventurers to perceive 
a number of low huts and tents arranged symmetrically 
in a large circular space. Some of these huts ap- 
peared more solid and of an older date than the others, 
and doubtless marked the site of one of those cele- 
brated places of refuge which the Chouans had made for 
themselves from the earliest period of their insurrec- 
tion. Several covered ways, similar to that along which 
the adventurers had advanced, terminated in this 
glade, which was surrounded on all sides by an im- 
penetrable thicket, a few paces behind which lay a 
strong line of ditches and barricades. This camp 
seemed to hold the same place in the forest as the 
donjon-keep in the fortresses of the middle ages; all 
the materials for a desperate struggle and obstinate 
defence were collected here. The order and quiet 
which were here religiously observed, announced the 
presence of the more important chiefs and of a picked 
body of men; and, in fact, among the soldiers lying- 
scattered on the grass, or talking in a low voice on 
the threshold of their cabins, the greatest number 
wore the green coat and red waistcoat which was the 
uniform of the royalist chasseurs — that remarkable 
body of men which, organised under the protection of 
the treaties, numbered in its ranks almost all the 
heroes of the former wars. 

After the guide and his two companions had pene- 
trated into the enclosure, and while they were pass- 
ing in front of the camp, the fires had been lighted 
in the huts and now cast a flickerina; sdeam on the scat- 
tered multitude that filled the glade: strong, fierce- 
looking faces came half out of the obscurity and were 
then suddenly plunged back into it like fading phan- 



A TALE OF LA VENDEE. 180 

toms. The guide halted about the middle of the 
camp, before one of the oldest huts, around which was 
posted a numerous body of men. He entered alone; 
but a few minutes afterwards he returned for the 
blind old man and his miserable companion, and in- 
troduced them into the presence of Fleur-de-Lys. 

The young chief, who was standing behind a table, 
was conversing with George, while two men in an 
ecclesiastical dress were writing at one corner, and 
small groups of officers were scattered about in the 
space between the table and the door. All con- 
versation was suspended upon the entrance of the 
beggar. His daughter led him forward in front of 
the chief, and then retired a few steps backwards, 
making several awkward curtseys. The honest man, 
carrying his bundle of letters in his hand, his head 
bent and his body inclined in an attitude of respect- 
ful humility, appeared to wait before speaking till 
he was spoken to. Fleur-de-Lys turned the light of 
a lamp upon the mysterious messenger, while his 
penetrating glance examined him minutely from head 
to foot. 

" Where do you come from," said he, " and who 
sends you?" 

" Is that really you, Fleur-de-Lys?" asked the old 
man. 

" It is." 

"What misery it is to be blind!" returned the 
beggar, slowly shaking his head : "it would be a re- 
freshing sight for an old soldier to see your face, 
Fleur-de-Lys." 

" Have you served, then, my old fellow?" 

" I was at Fontenoy, general: it was there I got 
my knee broken. King Louis XV- was there too: 
he made himself a bed for the night upon English 
colours, and I remember he said that a king of France 
ought to be friends with that banner only when it was 
under his feet. I hope the company will excuse mc 



190 bellah; 

if I give offence, but it's the truth that on a field of 
battle, if Ave are to do well, we ought to have the 
English opposite us and not side by side." 

At these recollections of royalty thus called up by 
the old man, all those present uncovered their heads 
and bowed, looking at Fleur-de-Lys. A bright colour 
rose to the young chieftain's face. 

" Well, gentlemen," said he, smiling, " I have 
here an unexpected auxiliary. The blood of the van- 
quished of Cressy and Agincourt still beats in every 
Frenchman's heart, you see. But where do you come 
from, my old comrade?" 

" I come from Normandy, general. M. de Frotte 
had me carried in a cart to Fougeres, and I have 
crossed the enemy's lines to bring you this packet." 

" So you are a Norman, then?" said Fleur-de- 
Lys. " From what part of Normandy?" 

" From the neighbourhood of Coutances, general." 

" Ah!" said Fleur-de-Lys, glancing at the tall girl 
in the hood, "from Coutances?" and he proceeded 
to ask the beggar some questions about his com- 
panion, in Norman patois, which were answered in 
the same language to his satisfaction. " Come, gen- 
tlemen," said he laughing, while he opened the de- 
spatch, "this is at least genuine Norman." After 
glancing through the letters, he picked up the en- 
velope which he had thrown on the floor, and atten- 
tively examined the broken seal ; then his piercing 
eyes were again fixed upon the blind man for a mo- 
ment with an uneasy expression, but the tranquil and 
venerable appearance of the honest fellow seemed to 
dissipate the cloud of suspicion which had darkened 
the young captain's brow. He seated himself at the 
table. 

" My good old man," said he '• you will be obliged 
to set off again to-night. The fatigue is great for 
you, but I will take care that you do not lose your- 
labour. At the inn called the 'Flowering Apple-tree,' 



A TALE OP LA VEN'DEE. 191 

half-a-lcague from Plclan, you will meet an agent of 
M. ele Frotte's, who will spare you going the rest of 
the way. If you love the king, let yourself be cut to 
pieces rather than give up the note which I am going 
to confide to your care." 

As he spoke, Fleur-de-Lys wrote a few hasty lines; 
and when lie had folded and sealed his letter he handed 
it across the table to the worthy man, who, without 
being told, put out his hand to take it. 

"Ah! you can see, then, my friend?" exclaimed 
Fleur-de-Lys, snatching back his hand. " Hola! 
le.t gars clu Boi! treason! seize the spy and his 
daughter!" 

At the sound of Fleur-cle-Lys 's exclamation, a 
dozen soldiers rushed into the cabin, but the officers 
had already mastered the pretended blind man and 
the woman, after a desperate resistance, which had 
been terminated by the help of George's terrible arm. 
The beggar's wooden leg, his grey beard, and the red 
locks of his daughter had all come off in the struggle. 

" Your name, comrade," said Fleur-de-Lys, ad- 
dressing himself to the elder of the two prisoners. 

"Bruidoux, serjeant of grenadiers in the battalion 
of the Fearless." 

' ' You are acquainted with the laws of war, and you 
know the fate you must expect. Hare you anything 
to say?" 

" For myself, nothing. For this lad, I wish to say 
that I persuaded him, almost in spite of himself, to 
take part in this expedition, and that if you spare his 
life you will make it easy for me to die. That's all." 

" Impossible, comrade. But nevertheless we might 
come to a good understanding. Will you enter the 
king's service?" 

" I would as soon enter the Pope's," said Brui- 
doux, gravely. 

"And you, young man?" said Fleur-de-Lys, ap- 
proaching the other prisoner. 



192 bell.ui; 

This question was followed by an interval of silence, 
during which Bruidoux's face was contracted by- 
degrees into an expression of the most extreme 
anguish. 

"The Serjeant is my superior officer, sir," mur- 
mured the young captive at last, in a feeble voice; 
"he has spoken for us both." 

At these words the features of the old Serjeant 
relaxed with a sudden emotion, and a tear fell upon 
his bronzed cheek. 

" It is a pity," said Fleur-de-Lys ; "I love brave 
hearts. Remember that I do not ask you to betray 
your country. We serve France, as you do, only in 
a better fashion. Come; I will give you an hour to 
think of it, for I am sorry for you. Benedicite," 
added the young man, turning to one of the chasseurs, 
"take them to the empty cabin at the other end of the 
camp; let them be bound and kept strictly guarded. 
If they have not changed their minds within the hour 
you will have them shot. You need come for no 
further orders upon the subject. Besides, I shall not 
be in camp at that time." 

Benedicite, an old Chouan of sour aspect, placed 
the prisoners in the midst of a party of chasseurs, and 
left the hut. The news of the bold attempt of the 
two republican spies had spread through the camp, 
and the soldiers crowded round them with a curiosity 
more respectful than insulting in its character, for 
such an act of daring was calculated to please these 
equally adventurous and intrepid spirits, for whom 
all the art of war was briefly expressed in two words — 
daring and cunning. 

The captives were placed in a hut which was 
situated at a little distance from the others, at the 
extremity of the camp, and was supported against a 
gigantic oak. This hovel had no windows, but 
sufficient air penetrated through the ill-joined planks 
of a roughly-made door. Benedicite left the two 



» 



ATAMOPIA VEXDKE. 193 

republicans stretched on their backs in the middle of 
the cabin, their arms and legs confined with strono- 
bonds; then, returning a few minutes afterwards, 
and placing a small lamp in a corner — 

"That is your clock," said he; "when you see it 
about to expire, your hour will have passed." 

And with this ominous warning the Chouan left 
them. 

•' This, my boy," said Bruidoux, after having me- 
ditated for a moment, " is not precisely a rose-coloured 
adventure, and the rascals have tied the cords quite 
into my flesh, into the bargain. I did not choose to 
complain, on account of my dignity as a citizen, but 
I am afraid they have not treated you in a more 
friendly fashion, my poor Colibri." 

" No, serjeant," said Colibri; "but what does that 
matter now." 

"I understand what you mean," returned Brui- 
doux, in a voice somewhat changed. "Hem! hem! 
I cannot surely have caught a cold? Don't imagine 
however for a moment, Colibri, that your Serjeant's 
heart beats one jot quicker than usual. This 
is how it stands, my boy; I feel a moral force 
which is secretly stifling me, and upon your account 
moreover. It was I — yes it was I, devil take me, 
who got you into this scrape! I thought I was doing- 
right ; on my word, I thought I was doing right, 
Colibri, and for your interest. Having always had 
a friendship for you, I thought I should make your 
fortune at one blow, and place you high in the 
opinion of your officers and in the estimation of your 
comrades. It was a good idea, I still maintain; it 
was an excellent idea — the idea of a friend and of a 
father; but, nevertheless, it is an idea which troubles 
me at this time, and you must tell me, Colibri, you 
must absolutely tell me, my boy, if — if — come, out 
with the word — if you forgive me. Yes, or no?" 
" I forgive you with all my heart, serjeant," an- 

N 



194 uellaii; 

swered Colibri; "I know it was all meant for my 
good, though it has not quite turned out as you 
expected." 

"You are a brave fellow," said Bruidoux, whoso 
voice had now become quite hoarse. Then after a 
short silence, he resumed in a firmer tone: "yes, you 
are a brave fellow, Colibri; and since you refused the 
oilers of the ci-devant prince and the federalists, you 
may boast that you possess my esteem, though I do 
not see in what it can help you much for the 
future." 

" Is there no hope, then, Serjeant?" asked Colibri. 

" Hem! hem! my boy — I ask your pardon; there 
is always hope, the learned say, till the body has 
fallen to dust. But to maintain that our position is 
a brilliant one — no, no! It is certain that the enemy 
has gained a considerable advantage over us, an ad- 
vantage which seems decisive, too; for I should not 
like to deceive you in a moment such as this — a mo- 
ment when every one, according to my way of think- 
ing, is at liberty to make such reflexions as suit his 
disposition." 

A fresh silence succeeded this involved though 
sufficiently clear explanation of the Serjeant's feelings. 
Suddenly a flash of lightning gleamed through the 
hut, almost extinguishing the feeble light of the 
lamp, and a few seconds afterwards a dreadful peal 
of thunder resounded through the air, announcing that 
the storm which had been threatening all the evening, 
was now about to burst upon the forest. 

"In the farm-house, at my father's," said Colibri, 
' • I have passed many a night out of bed in such wea- 
ther as this. The fire from heaven soon sets a barn 
alight, serjeant; so, while the storm lasted, my father 
used to stride up and down the room, but the good 
woman, my mother, said her prayers in the corner of 
the hearth, and that was the great thing that com- 
forted my father, ' ' - 



A TALK Ob- LA. VHNJUSK. 195 

" Doubtless, my boy," said Bruidoux; "and wliat 
were the prayers that the good woman your mother 
used to say upon those occasions?" 

"' They were prayers to God, surjeant; to the God 
whom we loved in former times." 

" But do you know them by heart, Colibri?" 

" 1 think so, seijeant; yes, I think I can remem- 
ber thein." 

"Because, do you sec, my boy — Ah! mille bombes! 
I thought that one had blinded me for good and all. 
And now, only listen to the artillery. Ah! its get- 
ting warm up there. Well, Colibri, if the Republic 
lias been to blame in anything, according to my mind, 
it has been in insulting Him who is now thundering 
over our heads; for there are some occasions in 
life when all the rights of men and citizens are but a 
poor consolation for us feeble creatures. As for my- 
self, Colibri, if I never wilfully injured a woman or 
child, or even a dog, I did not act thus so much out 
of regard to my getting on in my profession, as that 
I might not by so doing offend Him whom I spoke 
of; therefore, if you have any scrap of a prayer in your 
memory, and if it is any satisfaction to you to say it, 
say it boldly." 

" It would be a great satisfaction to me, serjeant," 
said Colibri. 

" And," pursued Bruidoux, " if you wish to prove 
categorically to your ancient friend that you hear no 
grudge against him, you will even say them aloud, 
considering that upon this head I consider you to be 
my superior." 

The serjeant ceased speaking, and Colibri closed 
his eyes and seemed plunged in meditation. 

" Serjeant," said he, after a pause, "this is what 
the good woman used to say — " 

But he stopped abruptly, for the door creaked upon 
its rusty hinges, and the prisoners were no longer 
alone; though, in the painful attitude to which their 



196 BELL AH; 

bonds confined them, they could not see who it was 
who thus came to disturb their last moments. 

" The lamp is not yet burnt out," said Bruidoux, 
dryly; "it is wrong to cheat an enemy in misfor- 
tune." 

" Speak lower, Serjeant," said a manly voice in a 
smothered tone. 

"I know that voice," muttered the Serjeant; "who 
are you, friend?" 

"Kado!" 

" Ah! the father of the young citizen with the 
top? Are you come to save us, old fellow?" 

"Not so loud; the door is wide open, and the sen- 
tinel does nothing but pass and repass before the 
threshold." 

At this moment, the soldier on guard stopped at 
the door. 

" The prisoners asked me to help them to ease their 
position a little," said Kado. 

" You may do so," said the soldier, and he resumed 
his walk. 

Kado knelt down and leaned over the captives, 
letting a knife, whose sharp blade glittered in the 
rays of the lamp, slip down his sleeve; then with two 
cuts he severed the cords that bound the legs and 
wrists of the Serjeant. 

" For your life don't stir!" said he. * 

Then turning to Oolibri, he freed him from his 
bonds witli the same dexterity and promptitude. 
This operation concluded, the forester rose and, 
facing the attentive prisoners, began to address them, 
now with measured gravity, then more hastily, modify- 
ing the sound of his voice and the matter of his dis- 
course according as the noise of the sentinel's steps 
sounded nearer or farther off. 

" You have only a short half-hour longer — The 
king is a good master — You must not dream of 
escaping from the camp across these lines of senti- 



A TALE OF LA VENDEE. 197 

nels; besides, you would certainly fall in with one of 
the posts in the forest — You would serve with good 
comrades — This is your only chance of safety: in ten 
minutes when the storm will he at its height, and the 
wood shaking with the thunders from heaven, then 
rise; your limbs will be unstiffened by that time — 
Yes; Flour-do- Lys promises each of you an officer's 
commission — I will leave you my knife here, under 
the straw; make use of it to cut a hole in the thatch 
above your heads where the trunk of the oak passes 
through, and then climb upon the roof by the open- 
ing — The cause of the king is the cause of heaven: 
it is certain to triumph — The branches of the oak 
stretch as far as the neighbouring thicket; the thicket 
is full of traps; you would certainly perish if you 
enter it — There is no disgrace in turning back into the 
right road — But the lowest and largest branch of the 
oak is woven into the branches that cover the nearest 
alley, follow that branch to the arch, and then drag 
yourselves along it upon your knees — I am sorry for 
you, it is a sad end for gallant men — When the arch 
comes to an end drop down; you will find the little 
fellow whom you saved from being shot — Farewell, 
then, if you will have it so!" 

" What have they made up their minds to do?" 
asked the sentinel, looking into the cabin. 

"To die," answered Kado. "Let us leave them 
alone. Good night, comrade." 

" Here conies the rain," said the soldier; " I shall 
take shelter inside the hut till their hour arrives." 

" As you will," said Kado; " still if you were in 
their position you would not like to be hindered from 
talking freely with a friend." 

The soldier yielded to this objection with an air of 
ill humour, and left the hut along with the forester. 
As soon as the door was closed after them, Bruidoux 
gave a huge sigh which was echoed by Colibri. 

" Well, my lad," said the old serjeant, " this is a 



198 BELL AH; 

very unexpected incident. What do you think of 
it?" 

"Extremely unexpected, Serjeant." 

" There is a most excellent proverb, Colibri, my 
friend, which says that there is no bush so little that 
it does not cast a shade. Who would ever have 
imagined, nevertheless, that the day would come 
when that youth with the top would shelter me — me, 
Bruidoux? Nobody would hare imagined it possible, 
not even you, Colibri, although from this day forth 
I shall take delight in attributing to you every good 
craalitv both of head and heart." 

j. 

"But, serjeant," asked Colibri, "did you under- 
stand a single word of the complicated plan of the 
citizen Chouan?" 

" I understand it from head to foot, my son, and 
T will employ the few tedious minutes which the stiff- 
ness of our ancles will oblige us still to pass in this 
enclosure, in explaining it to you." 

While Serjeant Bruidoux was calmly expounding 
to his subaltern the plan of escape which had been 
proposed to their coolness and daring, the flashes of 
lightning became more frequent and more dazzling: 
the storm was evidently increasing. The deep, yet 
distant murmur of the tempest was now changed into 
deafening peals and claps of thunder, to which was 
added the pattering of a deluge of rain upon the leaves, 
while tin- door of the hovel shook and rattled in the 
blasts of wind, and the rain poured through in streams 
on all sides. Suddenly a clap of thunder, louder than 
any of the others, echoed through the air, and seemed 
to destroy the last barrier against the free course of the 
elements, while a furious whirlwind made the enor- 
mous oak, against which one of the cabin walls was 
supported, tremble to its very roots. 

"Nov/ is our time, lad," said Bruidoux, rising 
resolutely. Then seizing the forester's knife, and 
standing on tip-toe, he plunged it into the mossy 



A TALE OF LA VENDEE. 19'J 

thatch, which he dragged down from the trunk of the 
tree; then, lifted from the ground by Colibri, to whom 
the anxiety of the moment lent superhuman force, 
he enlarged the opening with his hands. The wind 
rushed violently into the hut by this new entrance 
and extinguished the lamp. 

"Courage, my boy," said Bruidoux; "I won't 
desert you." 

And fixing his hands firmly upon the edge of the 
roof, he dragged himself out. As soon as he stood 
upon the thatch, from which the rain was streaming 
on every side, he grasped the oak with one arm, and 
with the other assisted his companion to mount to his 
side. 

" Here's the tree," said Bruidoux in a low voice, 
"but I don't see the bough; can you find it?" 

Colibri made no answer. Confused by the dark- 
ness, blinded by the hurricane, and panting with 
eagerness, they felt all over the rough trunk of the 
oak with trembling hands, but in vain. 

" A thousand millions!" said the serjeant, "there 
is no more a bough here than in my eye, and the 
extinguished lamp will betray us!" As he spoke, a 
forked gleam of lightning shot across the dark vault 
of heaven, and showed the fugitives the bough they 
sought ; it shot out from the trunk of the tree two or 
three feet below them, and stretched out its long 
slender arm horizontally. 

"Follow me!" said Bruidoux; "hold fast by my 
rags, and creep along astride upon the branch till we 
get to the end of it." 

The serjeant, closely followed by Colibri, had already 
bestridden the arm of the tree, which according to 
the forester's directions, was to serve as a bridge to 
enable them to reach the leafy roof of the neighbour- 
ing alley. The branch bent under their weight, but, 
supported at its weakest end by the intertwinings of 
the arch, it did not give way. 



200 BELL AH; 

They had hardly begun their aerial journey when 
the cry " To arms!" was heard behind them. 

" Be firm, my lad! keep up your heart," whispered 
Bruidoux. 

A few seconds more, and the fugitives had reached 
the leafy covering of branches suspended like a canopy 
over the avenue leading to the camp. They dragged 
themselves upon their knees along this living trellis- 
work till a noise of voices and of hasty steps, which 
appeared coming towards them, arrested their progress. 
A band of armed men with blazing torches ran down 
the glade under their feet. As soon as the torch- 
light had disappeared, they hastily and silently 
continued their journey. Suddenly a low groan 
escaped from Colibri. The Serjeant turned: — 

" What is the matter, lad ?" asked he. 

"My foot has slipped through the branches, 
Serjeant; my leg's gone after it, and I can't pull it 
out." 

"Ah, you're a droll dog! This is just the fitting 
time for a good joke! Come, give a lusty pull." 

" It is impossible, Serjeant; I can follow you no 
farther — but save yourself. I won't be the cause — " 

" Don't insult your superior officer! Stay a mo- 
ment, and I'll come and help you." 

" All is lost, serjeant," returned Colibri, approach- 
ing his mouth to Bruidoux's ear, and speaking in an 
almost inaudible voice; " some one has caught hold 
of my leg. ' ' 

Bruidoux seized the young man's hand without 
answering. A fearful interval of suspense succeeded, 
then a low soft voice murmured below, " Is that you, 
Mr. Serjeant?" 

" Thank heaven, it is the little lad with the top!" 
exclaimed Bruidoux, drawing a long breath. " Yes, 
it is us, my darling. I hope everybody at home is 
well? Only wait two quarters of a second and we 
shall be with you." 



A TALE OP LA VENDEE. 201 

While he spoke the old Serjeant had succeeded in 
disengaging Colibri's leg; then springing down into 
the thicket, he entered the path, and pressed the 
forester's son to his heart. 

The little hoy then hastened to guide the fugitives 
through the thickest labyrinth of underwood, and 
brought them in safety to the border of the forest. 
Bruidoux did not part from him without another 
embrace, and without promising to return him his 
top on the first opportunity. 



202 bellah; 



CHAPTER XIII. 



" Sa presence en ces lieux m'est toujours redoutable, 
* * % * * * * 

II est puissant; il m'aime, et vient ponr m'epouser." 

Corxeille. 



While the republican captives were thus effecting 
their escape with a good fortune which seldom fails 
to accompany the brave, a young officer of the royal 
and catholic army was crossing the forest alone, in 
the direction of its western boundary. He walked 
quickly along under the torrents of rain which fell 
from the tempest-tossed trees, indifferent to the vio- 
lence of the storm, and merely shaking Ids cloak from 
time to time with an absent air, when it became satu- 
rated with wet. The sentinels whom he met at short 
intervals all gave him a military salute, after a few 
words exchanged in a low voice. As lie was passing 
an important post be was recognised by the light of 
a bivouac fire, and immediately surrounded by a 
respectful crowd, who mingled their enthusiastic 
hurrahs with the thousand noises of the hurricane. 
The women and children of the proscribed insurgents, 
startled from their sleep, rose hastily from their 
miserable shelters, repeating the name of Fleur-de- 
Lys with simple admiration. They hastened up from 
every side; they pressed around the young chief, some 
of them struggling to touch his hands or his clothes; 
while his presence appeared to affect them like that 
of some being superior to man. Similar ovations 



A TALE OP I.A VKInDEE. 203 

more than onco delayed the progress of the royalist 
general through the different divisions of the forest. 

Here seems the fitting place to partially unveil this 
young leader, thus surrounded by a popularity almost 
bordering upon adoration. He had first appeared 
in Vendee at the end of the great wars, though he 
did not then bear the same name as he bears in this 
tale. The course of events having thrown him into the 
Lower Maine, and still later into the North of Brittany, 
he had there reunited the scattered elements of the 
Chouannerie. He was the first who had made the 
Chouans leave their defensive positions, and had led 
them to the open plain of the battle-field. An aston- 
ishing good fortune accompanied his arms, and had 
not betrayed him on one single field. Long before 
he became their leader, the Breton insurgents had 
felt, the commanding influence of his peculiar renown. 

It was not alone his military qualities, his fiery 
activity, regulated and governed by an unalterable 
coolness and determination, nor the rare union of 
temerity and calculation that directed all his move- 
ments, which had rendered him celebrated, but some- 
thing mysterious in his person and destiny completed 
the power of his fascination over the simple and ardent 
imaginations of his followers. His beauty, his well- 
chosen language, his liberality, which always left him 
without any private possessions beyond his war-horse 
— all the prestige of power and grace which shed a 
halo over his youthful head, were so many brilliant 
characteristics out of which superstition and the 
love of the marvellous had formed an almost super- 
natural being. He displayed an almost incredible de- 
gree of bravery, charging the enemy with his sheathed 
sabre, and chanting in the midst of the hottest fire 
war-hymns which he had himself composed. 

The gars believed him to be invulnerable. The 
other chiefs and the noblesse, although less sensible 
of these dazzling qualities, could not but acknow- 



201: BELL AH; 

ledge the talent for that species of war which he was 
carrying on with which the daring partizan seemed 
to be endowed; hut they yielded still more to the 
prestige of an illustrious resemblance imprinted on that 
valiant brow — and this resemblance was no deception. 
Behind the cloud of obscurity which shrouded the 
origin of this extraordinary being, lay concealed a 
woman's shame — a monarch's crime. The nobles 
of the west had in some sort legitimatized by their 
attentions the young man's claims to the peculiar 
respect of the royalist insurgents, for they had dis- 
played this fragment of royalty in the eyes of their 
simple soldiery, as if to conceal from them the dis- 
tressing: absence of those who had a more legitimate 
title to their homage. 

But the skill of the young chieftain in making use 
of every circumstance which might extend his empire, 
bis absolute assumption of authority, and the ever 
increasing degree in which he merged all things in 
himself, had at last disquieted even those who had 
encouraged the worship of which he was now the 
object. The renown of his successes, the splendour 
of his popularity, had even reached the ears of the 
emigrant princes. So powerful a servant was dis- 
pleasing in their eyes, and the Count do Puisaye wrote 
him a congratulatory letter from England, calculated 
to make him feel his dependance. 

Such was the state of affairs when negotiations 
were first opened with the Republic; in these the for- 
tunate adventurer refused to take any share, although 
the intrigues which had been carried on for some 
time left him all at once isolated and without any 
means of prolonging his resistance. Closely pursued 
by the "Blues" he was forced to abandon Brittany, and 
sought refuge on board a fishing-boat which put in 
to receive him on a wild deserted beach not far from 
St. Brieux. A small body of Chouans assisted his es- 
cape. Before he left the shore he broke off a golden 



A TALE OV LA VENDEE. 205 

fleur-de-lys which ornamented the hilt of his sword, 
and gave it to his faithful friends. The banished 
hero's name was soon changed, in the popular legends 
of the country, to the name of this relic, and in 
more than one parish, to please the enthusiasm of the 
parishioners, an especial prayer for Fleur-de-Lys was 
added to those which were offered up for the king. 

Xo sooner were his secret enemies freed from his 
presence than they began to regret his departure. 
When they were about to resume the war they found 
the old Chouan bands quite ready for action, but as 
much scattered and disorganized as at the period of 
the first rising; and none among the leaders felt equal 
to the task of re-uniting that force which they had so 
imprudently broken when in Fleur-de-Lys's hands. 
That young chief was then in England, where he had 
been brilliantly received by all the body of emigrants. 
One of the exiled princes, who was there at the same 
time, gave him a most distinguished reception, intimat- 
ing that he might one clay again require his services. 
It was even reported that Fleur-de-Lys received at 
that period a title which recalled the scene of his 
first deeds of arms, and which was borrowed from the 
memory of the legitimatized family of Louis XIV., 
although no positive declaration accompanied this 
covert allusion to the equivocal rights of the young 
duke. 

A few weeks afterwards the English ministry de- 
termined to throw a body of emigrants into Brittany, 
and one of the uncles of the young captive king was 
selected to command this adventurous body. It is 
well known with how much ardour the presence of this 
personage had been at all times solicited by the V en- 
dean chiefs, and what bitterness and discouragement, 
often not very measured in its expression, the most 
famous defenders of the royalist cause felt as they 
were perpetually disappointed in their most legitimate 
hopes! 



20G liELt-Ui ; 

The expedition was soon ready. It was intended to 
set all the insurgent masses in Brittany in movement, 
in order to clear the country of the republican forces, 
and to insure the safe landing of the flotilla. Fleur- 
de-Lys seemed best calculated for this task, and he 
accepted it. His name, which had grown still greater 
during his absence, soon drew to his standard every 
peasant capable of bearing arms, and in a couple of 
da} r s he found himself at the head of an army. The 
sort of semi-official authority which he had received, 
gave him a new and incontestable claim to superiority 
in the eyes of the chiefs, and, as we have seen, he was 
able to accomplish the mission with which he had 
been charged in one short campaign; but the English 
fleet failed to execute its part, and appear on the 
coast at the time appointed. Fresh instructions were 
sent to Fleur-de-Lys, which lie obeyed by modifying 
his original plans and retiring into the interior. But 
this delay, which was not unattended with some slight 
suspicion of treachery, had deeply wounded the im- 
petuous young general: he fancied himself sacrificed 
without remorse, in return for his devotion; his open 
hatred for the English became more violent, and 
he loudly declared his strenuous opposition to every 
measure in which they should be concerned. 

Some indiscreet words which had escaped him in his 
resentment awakened the distrust of those around him. 
Part of the chiefs remained sincerely attached to him, 
but the others, in their secret hearts, bore his yoke 
with impatience; they were jealous of the homage 
which ho received from the adoration of a whole pro- 
vince, and the} r inveighed bitterly, in private, against 
that kind of personal fatalism which is inspired in 
the favourites of fortune by a course of invariable 
success, and from which dreams of ambition often 
take their rise. We shall soon learn whether these 
jealous apprehensions were, or were not, without 
foundation. 



A TALE OF 1,A VENUE 10. 207 

Fleur-de-Lys having reached the borders of the 
forest, found a strong party of cavalry encamped there 
— the only force of this description which the royalist 
army could boast of in its numbers; and even these 
were very imperfectly equipped, half of the horsemen, 
like the greater number of the volunteers in the forest, 
being shod with sabots only, abovo which they bound 
straps of leather round their legs to serve as boots. 
The young chief here mounted a horse and galloped 
off alone in the direction of Kergant. 

The forest of La Nouee had served as an asylum 
for the marquis and all his family, during the day suc- 
ceeding the surprise of the chateau by Francis; but 
receiving information on that same day that the re- 
publicans, having first occupied and then abandoned 
Kergant, had retreated to their head-quarters, the 
marquis, wishing to spare his family as long as pos- 
sible the horrors of a proscribed life, determined to 
re-enter his paternal home. Fleur-de-Lys engaged 
to ensure them against a second surprise by the watch- 
fulness of his spies; and, besides, the secret plan of 
the Chouans was of such a nature that this precarious 
position could last only for a very short time. The fa- 
mily, therefore, had resumed all the old habits of the 
chateau, and thus sought to delude themselves into the 
belief that they were living in the security of former 
times. But this deceptive calm blinded no one; pain- 
ful anxiety was evinced in the words and still more in 
the silence of all. Bellah had sunk into a state of 
distressing langour, and Andree herself smiled no 
more, except in her dreams. 

Upon the evening of which we are speaking, the 
members of the family had separated, as usual, about 
ten o'clock. Bellah retired to her own room, where 
she remained standing with one hand supported by an 
arm-chair, her head bent and her eyes fixed upon 
vacancy; she seemed to be listening with melancholy 
interest to the sounds of the storm without, and to 



208 bell ah; 

tlie gloomy echoes with which it filled the corridors of 
the old chateau. The beautiful features of the young 
girl were much changed; but even her paleness, and 
the dark line beneath her eyes, only gave her that sole 
charm of her sex which she had wanted — the charm 
of weakness. At last, quitting her thoughtful attitude, 
she seated herself before a small table, over which was 
placed an elegant bookcase of carved ebony ; from this 
she took a large volume bound in velvet and fastened 
with a clasp, but gently putting it on one side, with- 
out opening it, and shaking her head with an expres- 
sion of doubt and sorrow, as one who yields to a wish 
although he thinks it wrong to do so, she seized a 
sheet of paper and began to write with feverish eager- 
ness: — 

' : Herve, my brother, I fear I shall never see you 
more. Your contempt — your most unjust contempt, 
heaven knows! — has given me a death-blow. You 
would hardly know me again, dear brother. All about 
me think that it is only tbe effects of fatigue and emo- 
tion: I allow them to think so, but I feel that I am 
dying. I fancy it must be my heart that is affected, 
for sometimes it beats so quickly that I can scarcely 
breathe; then it stops, and I fancy the end is come. 
1 feel crushed and broken, and my mind, too, some- 
times wanders. It seems as if each gust of wind bent 
me to the earth — as if I were some feeble plant, and 
that each blast took away a little of the life that re- 
mains. If I am mistaken — if I am fated to live — 
you will never see these lines, so I need not trouble 
you more with my feelings. 

" Ilerve, my whole life has been devoted to duty; to 
obey its commands I voluntarily allowed disgrace to 
approach me; but I ask that my grave at least may 
be pure in the eyes of all, especially in yours. When 
I am no more it can hurt no one. Dear brother, if 
you weep for me, the thought that you will do so is 



A TALK OF L\ VENDEE. 200 

very sweet to me in my present enfeebled state. 
There cannot be much harm in this weakness which 
urges me to write to you, for my conscience 
scarcely reproaches me, and it is still my old con- 
science of former days. You remember, Herve, you 
used to say my conscience was like a sensitive plant, 
and even more morbidly sensitive. Where are those 
times ? Alas ! Alas ! 

"When my own lips confessed my disgrace, you 
could not help believing me — you could not help it — 
but why so quickly, so easily, Herve ? In that home 
which was so long the home of both, in which my 
heart was unfolded before your eyes, should one 
word have been sufficient to efface all those recollec- 
tions which ought to have defended me ! Ah ! I 
could not have believed you had I heard a confession 
of baseness and shame escape from your lips ! and 
you — you did not doubt or even hesitate ! Has one 
word, one calumny, so much power over your mind, 
that it can outweigh all the testimony of a lifetime ? 
For I spoke a falsehood then — I must confess it. 
I shall not attempt to excuse myself for this untruth, 
Herve: the faults which are urged by a mistaken 
sense of duty are raised almost to the level of virtues ; 
and yet it cannot be right, or why, why do I suffer 
such misery? and you too, Herve, I am sure, are not 
happy. 

' ' I must explain all, since you no longer understand 
me. I have remained faithful, devotedly faithful, to 
those feelings and ideas with which our infancy was 
nourished: I believe in the king as I believe in hea- 
ven. This double faith alone supports my conscience; 
beyond that I see only darkness and trouble, in the 
midst of which it would be impossible for me to live. . 
Indifference is a word whose meaning 1 cannot under- 
stand. I bless heaven that my belief has been pre- 
served entire to the end, for I feel that for me there 
would bo no torments comparable to those I should 

o 



210 beixah; 

have felt had I doubted for a single instant. _ A 
lively faith in times like these entails duties which, 
I confess, Herve, are beyond a woman's strength. 
How often I have envied our darling Andree ! Her 
duties are measured by her weakness : she loves you, 
she is happy, and she can sleep. Alas! why was 
I not created like her for that enchanting domestic 
peace — for that easy yoke of one's home ? Heaven 
willed it otherwise. 

' ' It lay with me to prevent the ruin to our cause 
which I felt must follow from a meeting between you 
and that young man. I thought myself bound to 
prevent it at any cost to myself. 

" There is no life which should be more precious 
to all who love their king than that of Fleur-de-Lys. 
Their king, Herve! That is a word the magic power 
of which you have now ceased to feel as we do, and 
you will scarcely comprehend how that word can ex- 
plain the greatest sacrifices. You look with disdain, 
too, upon our prejudices, our idolatry; that is to say, 
Herve, on our worship of the most beautiful recollec- 
tions of our country and of our families; on our fidelity 
to the tombs and altars of our fathers, to all that is 
most illustrious and most touching in the past, to all 
that speaks of virtue to a Christian soul, and of glory 
to a Frenchman's heart, to all that is included for us, 
as you once knew, in that mysterious, that sacred em- 
blem, the royal crown. You say a new world is 
dawning on us when all these things shall have passed 
to the realm of shadows; if this world you speak of is 
to be, in truth I am not fitted for it. Like the pagan 
maiden of old, I must expire upon the threshold of 
that temple in which I utter my last prayer. 

" I was so far from being guilty, Herve, that at first I 
could not even understand of what you were speak- 
ing. It is strange that you would believe me so 
easily! I was determined to save that young man's 
life — it was my duty. But I must not, while 1 justify 



A TALE OP LA VENDEE. 211 

myself, allow your suspicions to be turned upon 
another. Alix, whom you know, has since then 
made me a confession which has explained your mis- 
take. She came to request that I would speak to her 
father in favour of one of our young officers whom 
she wishes to marry — the son of M. do Monryon's 
gamekeeper. She confessed to me that she had met 
him in the grove during that fatal evening, and that 
she feared being surprised by her father. The man 
she loves has a nom de guerre, which perhaps 
assisted in so strangely deceiving you: he is called 
Fleur-de-Genet. 

"This, I think, is all that I had to say, and I feel 
more happy now it is said. When you read this, 
dear Herve, I shall have ceased to live, which is a 
thought that frees me from many scruples. If I am 
so anxious that my memory should be dear to you, 
it is because I deserve that it should be so, Herve; 
of that be certain. I have had many painful struggles 
on your account. We are masters of our words and 
actions, but we are not of our hearts. Could you 
really believe me guilty? I was, I confess, deter- 
mined to be from henceforth nothing more to you 
than a stranger; for neither passion nor suffering — 
and I prove it now — should ever have forced me to 
act contrary to my conscience. Since our interview 
on the Rocky Mount you had reason to believe that 
I was — that 1 could be in future — nothing more to you 
than a bygone memory; but that I could turn the 
feelings of my heart towards another, that I could pro- 
fane the grave of my buried affections, enshrined in the 
depths of my heart — that I could give my blighted, 
my widowed hand to another! — Oh! heavens — !" 

As Bellah wrote this last word, she raised her 
tearful eyes to heaven as if in mute appeal, when 
the door opened and Fleur-de-Lys entered. Made- 
moiselle de Kergant rose, trembling. The young 



212 bellaii; 

man had stopped near the door, his head inclined in 

a respectful attitude. 

"Monsieur le Due," said she, with a somewhat 
haughty gravity, ' ' my father is still, I believe, in the 
saloon." 

"I entreat you to excuse me, mademoiselle," said 
Fleur-de-Lys. "It is to you alone that I must 
speak. You can readily believe that no trifling 
matter could have led me to do that which might 
offend you. I am on the point of taking an impor- 
tant resolution, and I must consult you without de- 
lay." 

Mademoiselle de Kergant examined Fleur-de-Lys's 
face with an anxious look, but could only read in it 
an expression of extreme perplexity. Falling back 
in her chair, overcome by an agitation which was be- 
trayed by the palpitation of her heart — 
"Speak, sir," said she. 

Fleur-de-Lys meditated for an instant, then ap- 
proaching the attentive girl — 

" You — you, at least," he said, " I am certain, will 
do me justice. You know whether I have not devoted 
myself entirely to the task which duty imposed upon 
me." 

"I know," interrupted Bellah, "that you have 
shown yourself worthy of your descent." 

" The patience, the self-denial of man has never- 
theless its limits," resumed the young officer: " woe 
to those who forget that devotion, and who cause it 
to waver even in the most faithful hearts." 

" These are strange words! What can you be con- 
templating?" 

" If I have not yet learned to be a traitor, Bel- 
lah, it is not from want of having received lessons. 
You know already, at least in part, what has passed; 
but nothing must now remain hidden from you. I 
was commissioned to disperse or to destroy every force 
which could present an obstacle to that landing which 



A TALE OF LA VENDEE. 213 

has been promised us so long. A few days after my 
arrival I executed my task. The shore, the whole 
country was free; we were masters of the coast; we 
stretched out our hands to our friends and allies, hut 
they came not; they left us threatened by one of the 
most formidable armies, commanded by the best gene- 
ral, of the Republic." 

"But you had been warned in time; you had re- 
ceived fresh orders?" 

" Yes; after waiting for three days in vain. I can- 
not describe to you my anguish during those long 
hours of uncertainty and abandonment; my anguish, 
not for myself, you can easily believe, but for so 
many brave fellows who had trusted to my word, and 
whom I had led on to be butchered without gaining any 
object. Orders arrived at last. The fleet had been 
detained by causes which were not explained. They 
asked for a week longer: till then we were to keep 
the advantages we had gained, occupy the enemy or 
beat him. What an enemy and what resources we 
had, you know! Such orders are easily given and 
their meaning easy to be understood. Whatever the 
issue might be, they were rid either of their enemy or 
of an adherent still more hateful. Bellah, I obeyed!" 

" Your duty and your honour commanded that you 
should do so," said the young girl, with dignity. 

" I am doubtful of that," returned Fleur-de-Lys. 
" To sacrifice so many generous hearts — I speak of 
my soldiers — for a selfish cause, in truth I know not 
whether religion and honour command it should be 
done ! Yet I obeyed. They ordered me to die. I 
prepared for death. I threw myself into this forest, 
and entrenched myself for a desperate contest; there 
is no doubt but that it must be our tomb should 
the enemy determine to attack us, but if so they 
will not themselves return uninjured. The attack 
has not yet taken place, and our affairs are now in 
this state: — The English flotilla is to appear off the 



214 bell ah; 

promontory of Quiberon the day after to-morrow. If 
the republicans hear of its approach they will hasten 
towards the coast — thither I can follow them, and a 
battle will be the result; but if they continue ignorant 
of it, as I believe they will, I shall try and turn their 
position to-morrow night, and reach the point of 
debai-kation before them by a forced march." 

"This is in truth an important moment," said 
Bellah, in an altered voice. " Why do you delay 
informing my father ?" 

A slight cloud of embarrassment darkened Fleur- 
de-Lys's handsome features. 

" Because I am not sure," answered he, in a pecu- 
liar tone, ' ' I am not sure whether, instead of follow- 
ing cither of those plans, I shall not this very night 
abandon the forest and retreat towards the north with 
all my Chouans." 

It could not escape Mademoiselle de Kergant that 
such a manceuvre would ruin at one blow all the 
most precious hopes of the royalists; for it would 
deprive the expedition of the emigrants of all support 
in the country, and abandon them as a prey to the 
republican army. Bellah's mind refused to believe 
such a catastrophe possible. 

" Pardon me, duke," she murmured, " I listened 
to you attentively, but I am not very well — I cannot 
surely have understood 3-011 aright." 

" You have understood me perfectly 

Bellah rose slowly from her seat, and looking at 
the young man witli the deepest astonishment — 

"It is impossible!" she faltered; "betray your 
brothers in arms! betray the prince — a prince of the 
blood — the king's brother!" 

" The prince!" said Fleur-de-Lys, with a smile of 
the bitterest disdain, "the prince is not coming." 

"That is false!" cried Mademoiselle de Kergant; 
" who dares to say so ? Who dares to say that a 
Bourbon will break his word and desert his standard ? ' ' 



A TALE OP LA VENDEE. 215 

" Himself, " said the young man, laying an open 
letter upon the table. It contained but one single 
line. Bellah cast her eyes over it, and her face was 
instantly suffused with blushes. If history has not 
flattered the chivalric personage whose conduct at 
this period struck all loyal hearts with despair, he 
would have felt no reproach more keenly than this 
blush. 

" England has compelled him to remain," she 
murmured. 

"Compelled! one of his name compelled! If 
England denied him her men-of-war, was there not 
one single fishing-boat to be found in which to save 
Cresar's honour? He is not coming, and as for the 
others I can warn them in time and prevent their 
landing; so that I shall betray no one but England, 
which I shall glory in doing." 

'■ But," answered Bellah with enthusiastic energy, 
" what matters the absence of an individual — what 
the commission of a fault which we may find after all 
excusable ? Is the crown less pure, the cause less 
sacred; that you will abandon it? What do you 
intend doing? What are your projects ? For whom 
shall you fight ? In whose name ? What bond will 
unite your soldiers ? Not one of our brave Bretons 
will follow you!" 

" They will all follow me," said the young man 
impressively. " Do you think the only interest that 
inspires them is the interest of the king — of that king 
who is an ally of the English, of the Saxons, as they 
call their ancient enemies — of that king who is always 
absent, who is so prodigal of their blood, so careful of 
his own? No, Bellah! they will be grateful to me for 
severing them from an execrated alliance, they will 
follow me to a man in the name of their religion, their 
liberty, their beloved country. This is the cause they 
serve, the cause to which it is grand, it is holy, to 
dedicate one's life — the true French cause! Mere 



210 eeli.aii; 

names are nothing. Your mind is too exalted not to 

understand me, Bellali." 

" All that I do understand," said Mademoiselle de 
Kergant, fixing her severe glance upon the ardent 
countenance of the young chief, "is that you too 
intend serving the Revolution after your own fashion, 
if not for your own profit. You are powerful, Fleur- 
de-Lys; your success, your influence, are such that 
I have always thought that heaven had selected you 
for the task; but heware least your strength should be 
withdrawn in the same hour that you hreak your faith." 

"May not heaven have reserved me for some 
higher destiiry than eternally to serve ungrateful 
friends!" exclaimed the young man. 

"But supposing that your fatal power, Fleur-de- 
Lys, is sufficient to Mind simple minds like those of 
your soldiers to your fault, to your crime — do you 
hope to deceive our faithful noblesse?" 

"Some of them, 1 know, restrained by narrow 
prejudices, will abandon me. Others, however, 1 
am satisfied, will march as willingly under the ban- 
ner of France as under the banner of a king who 
teaches them to forget her. I am not the only one, 
Bellali, whoso faith lias been shaken by this fresh 
breach of promise. I will show you the proofs if you 
desire it. Believe me, I have not contemplated such 
a design without some chance of success." 

"What design? What success, in the name of 
heaven ? for this passes my understanding and my 
reason!" 

"I am summoned, Bellali, to another field of 
honour and of danger. The credit of my name, the 
support of my troops, is invoked to re-animate the 
great Vendean wars. Other provinces are ready; 
federalism is awakening over the whole of France, 
and offers us her hand; the king at least, and all the 
enemies of the Republic, will be with us. The time 
when our insurrection conquered a cajrital, when one 



A TALE OF LA VENDEE. 217 

single victory would have been sufficient to open the 
road to Paris and to stifle a Republic — stronger then 
than it is now — that time may return. Our country is 
not like the race of kings, jealous of those who serve 
her. Her gratitude would be ensured to her liberators. 
These are noble hopes, and a man need not be vile to 
allow himself to be seduced by them. If they force 
us to run into dangers, they at least are noble dangers, 
and their objects worthy of a man!" 

Mademoiselle de Kergant had listened with a kind 
of terror to this language of a mind stung by injustice 
and excited by ambition. 

" I understand you now," said she: "pride misleads 
you, Fleur-de-Lys; you will destroy yourself; but what 
is fearful to think of, you will also destroy us all. You 
are about to bring ruin on our cause for ever. I can 
see it coming," she added, clasping her hands with 
a despairing gesture; "I am warned of it, and yet I 
can do nothing to prevent it." 

"You can do everything, Bellah," said Fleur-de- 
Lys, in a low abrupt voice, laying his hand softly on 
the young girl's arm. 

She looked at him without answering. 

" Yes," resumed he, " there is no sacrifice which 
I would not joyfully make — no bitterness, no insult, 
that I would not welcome, were I your husband!" 

" My husband!" cried Bellah, flinging herself back 
in her chair as if an abyss had suddenly yawned 
beneath her feet. 

"Ever since I have known you, Bellah, all my 
glory, all my good fortune, has been precious to me 
only because it has brought me nearer to you. Your 
love would have been everything to me, but you refused 
to give it me, and in despair I endeavoured to forget 
you. I must either become a great man or a great 
criminal. The passions which devour my heart are 
terrible, but you cannot understand them, and there- 
fore will not excuse them." 



218 bell ah; 

Mademoiselle de Kergant crossed her hands upon 
her breast as he finished speaking, in an attitude of 
calm despair, and her pale lips half opened: — 

" The king! " murmured she softly. At this magical 
word a sudden expression of suffering and then of 
triumph illuminated her features: she rose and ap- 
proached Fleur-de-Lys, and stretching out her hand, 
said with the utmost sweetness — 

' ' If this poor hand is of so much weight in the 
balance of the highest destinies, I shall be proud to 
give it." 

The young chief seemed confounded and almost em- 
barrassed at so prompt an answer and so easy a victory. 

"Is it possible?" murmured he. "Did I then 
deceive myself? You do not love him — you can love 
me! But your duty alone has spoken — you are sa- 
crificing yourself." 

" Do I appear as if I am?" said Bellah, with the 
same calm serenity. " Do not believe it. My heart, 
perhaps, may not be capable of those deep feelings 
which you might expect from another ; but it is suf- 
ficient that I can lie yours without compulsion. Time 
will do the rest." 

"Bellah, dare I believe you? Such unlooked-for 
happiness! Oil, from what a burden do you release 
me! from what mental anguish! How can I ever 
repay you?" 

" Servo the king, Fleur-de-Lys." 

" I will serve him, I will die for him, and I shall 
die witli gratitude if I die your husband! Bella!), 
it is cruel to press you more, and at this moment. I 
entreat you to forgive me. I love vou more than you 
can conceive. Your promise is sincere. Say, you do 
not hope to escape from your engagement. You will 
feel indignant at the suspicion — you do not reckon 
upon the probable chances of a murderous war — " 

" You and my father may dispose of my hand as 
you please, and when you please." 



A TAT,E OP I,A VENDEE. 210 

" What! supposing your father would consent, 
then the priest who to-morrow night will hless our 
arms before we set forth — before the battle perhaps — 
might bless our union! Dare I hope this, Bellah?" 

" The time is short," said Bellah, whose voice be- 
came weaker and weaker; "but you must speak to 
my father. I will consent to all that you may agree 
upon. Go now, Flem*-de-Lys; I am not very strong 
this evening, and this has taken me by surprise." 

The young man bent his knee to the ground, took 
Mademoiselle de Kergant's hand, pressed it to his 
lips, and then left the room with another low inclina- 
tion. Just as he reached the end of the long passage 
which traversed that wing of the chateau, he turned 
suddenly round, fancying that he heard a step behind 
him; but no sound struck upon his attentive ear, and 
concluding that it could have been nothing but the 
echo of his own footsteps under the arched roof which 
had caused his illusion, he began to descend the 
stairs. But his ear had not deceived him: he was 
followed by a woman — an irritated and vindictive 
woman — who emerged from the darkness when he dis- 
appeared, and descended after him the stairs which 
led to the vestibule of the chateau. While he was 
making his way to the marquis's apartment, she 
reached the court-yard, and vanished in the obscurity 
of the avenue. 

A few moments afterwards a piercing and prolonged 
cry, which seemed to proceed from Bellah's apartment, 
awoke Andree, whose room was next to that of her 
adopted sister: she rose hastily and ran in. Bellah, 
cold as death, was stretched upon the floor. The 
room was soon filled with all the inhabitants of the 
chateau, and while M. de Kergant, assisted by the 
canoness, was endeavouring to restore his daughter to 
life, Andree perceived lying upon the table the letter 
which the entrance of Fleur-de-Lys had caused her 
to break off so abruptly. She hastily read the first 



220* BELLAH ; 

few lines, anxious to discover the cause of her sister s 
sudden illness, then she crumpled it up and hid it 
in her dress. 

That same night a young woman, mounted upon a 
horse covered with foam, appeared before the republi- 
can advanced posts, and demanded to be led into the 
presence of the general-in-chief. The preceding even- 
ing the head-quarters had been shifted to the little 
town situated upon the river, three leagues from 
Kergant, and so often mentioned in this story. The 
general, upon the first words spoken by the young 
woman, sent for Colonel Pelven, and after a confer- 
ence of half-an-hour the mysterious horsewoman re- 
turned by the same way that she had come. 

The first dawn of day was breaking, and Pelven 
was still closeted with the general-in-chief, when a 
sort of half-idiot peasant was brought before them, 
who had more than once served as a messenger 
between the young colonel and his sister, and who 
handed Herve a , packet sealed with great care. It 
contained a few lines from Andree, enclosing Bell all's 
letter. 



A TALE OF LA VENDEE. 221. 



CHAPTER XIV 



' Aliens, c'cst ;\ raoi seule a mo rendre justice, 
Que de cris de douleur le temple retentisse." 

Kacink. 



M. de Kergant was one of those worthy men whose 
actions are wholly influenced by their simple feelings 
of right and wrong, from whose upright hearts the 
troubled waters of passion never well forth. There- 
fore such people are called uninteresting; but there 
is no dark spot on their consciences; their simple 
good sense, and the eternal laws of morality, keep 
alive in them a pure light which no breeze from the 
world can ever cause to waver. They are called 
narrow-minded: but their private life is always irre- 
proachable, and their public life, especially at those 
critical times when all the landmarks of the human 
mind are abruptly altered, may be subject to error 
but never to crime. Though they may be disdained 
by some, yet their intimate friendship is generally 
prized, because it is unvarying — because in it men find 
no cause for suspicion and feel secure from hypocrisy. 
In the presence of such men one may for a time 
take off the mask and breathe freely. Such charac- 
ters are as transparent as they are solid: they cannot 
deceive, but they are easily deceived. So that Fleur- 
de-Lys, involving the delicate subject of his conver- 
sation in his accustomed subtleties of language, found 
no difficulty in persuading the loyal old man to over- 



222 BELL AH; 

look all the hurry of his marriage, which besides was 
not wholly unexpected. 

M. de Kergant adored his daughter; but, as igno- 
rant as a child of all the secret movements of the 
heart, and of the complicated enigmas of passion, he 
had never for a moment suspected that the silent 
indifference with which Bellah condemned her bro- 
ther's conduct could conceal any deeper feeling. 
Many appearances had confirmed him in his mis- 
take. His paternal anxiety had been first excited 
upon finding in the letters which he received from 
his daughter when in England, the expressions of a 
romantic enthusiasm for the brilliant chief of the 
Breton Chouannerie. He had since perceived the 
expression of the same feeling in Bellah's eyes when 
in the presence of the young duke. He who was 
the object of these ingenuous demonstrations was 
rendered far more uneasy than happy by them; he 
discerned better the true character of the power 
which he exercised over the mind of the devoted 
royalist girl. But these delicate shades of feeling 
escaped the less penetrating understanding of M. de 
Kergant, who doubted not but that his daughter's 
heart had been completely captivated by so much 
beauty, courage, and success. 

In bis deep affection for his only child, the marquis 
had endeavoured to bring his mind to consent to an 
alliance in which he believed Bellah would find hap- 
piness, and he succeeded without much trouble, since 
he himself had not altogether escaped the fascinations 
of the young chieftain. He had always energetically 
defended him against the reproaches and suspicions 
of his rivals, and by perpetually covering him with 
the shield of his own loyalty, he had at last given 
him an almost filial place in his heart. In his eyes 
the stain of an unfortunate descent was almost 
obliterated by the brilliant services which he had 
rendered to his king, and by the honours which had 



A TALE OP LA VENDEE. 223 

been conferred on him. Even had it been a sacrifice 
for the old noble to merge the name of his ancient 
family in this renown of yesterday, that very sacrifice 
was calculated to gratify his feelings. He looked 
on it as a fresh pledge given to a sacred cause, and 
a bond which must stifle all fatal distrust and draw 
the ranks of the nobility closer around the popular 
hero. 

Such were the secret feelings of M. de Kergant, 
so that the confession which Fleur-de-Lys now made 
to him, and his assurance that he had gained Bellah's 
consent to this hasty marriage, was graciously, nay 
almost joyfully received ; it removed some doubts 
which had been lately weighing on the father's mind, 
and furnished a probable explanation of the sufferings 
which his daughter had evidently been enduring for 
the last few days, while at the same time it pointed 
out their cure. The nervous attack which had so 
suddenly seized Bellah only confirmed the marquis 
in his opinion, and removed his last scruples. While 
sitting alone by the bed side of his sick daughter, he 
interpreted her silence — the silence of despair — as a 
modest confession of her happiness, and mistook for 
tokens of love those bitter tears which his cruel 
though well meant consolations wrung from the poor 
girl's eyes. 

M. de Kergant took measures that very night in 
order to remove any objections which the priest might 
have made to celebrating such hurried nuptials. 
The dispensations were easily obtained, for many 
proscribed priests had taken refuge among the 
victorious bands of Fleur-de-Lys, and one of them 
was of high rank in the church. It was this dignitary 
who had promised to celebrate a solemn mass in the 
chapel of Kergant for the success of the expedition 
at the moment of the departure of the royalist army, 
and he now consented to unite the young general and 
Mademoiselle de Kergant at the same period. Bellah 



224 bellah; 

was informed of all these arrangements in the morn- 
ing, when she awoke out of the profound torpor which 
had succeeded to the violent attack of the preceding 
night. 

She rose, knelt in prayer to heaven, and then 
descended into the park, where she took a long and 
solitary walk. She was surprised to feel stronger 
than she had done the evening before, though her 
thoughts were still troubled and tumultuous: when 
suddenly remembering her unfinished letter, she has- 
tened home, but could find no trace of it in her 
apartment. She instantly sought Andree. and asked 
her if she had not seen it, but Andree declared reso- 
lutely that she did not know what she meant, and she 
affirmed this in so decided a tone, that Bellah dared 
not question her farther. Mademoiselle de Pelven, in 
common with the other inhabitants of the chateau, 
had heard of the intended marriage. After what she 
had read in the letter, she could not doubt but that 
Bellah was again obeying the imperious commands of 
a most painful duty, and she felt in her heart nothing 
but respect and pity for her unhappy friend; but if 
she had displayed her real feelings, she must have 
confessed her little act of perfidy, so that Andree was 
obliged to wear for the whole day the manner and 
appearance suited to the sister of an injured man. 

To sensitive minds the abyss of grief is fathom- 
less ; however deeply they may lie plunged into it, 
they can descend still lower and meet with still 
more bitter pangs. As long as life remains, how- 
ever deeply they may be wounded, they are stili 
capable of keener suffering. Mademoiselle de Ker- 
mint felt this, when to all her other anguish was 
added the thought that some indifferent person, some 
servant perhaps, had read this outpouring of her 
heart, this first letter of love, this legacy of her soul, 
this flower from her tomb. If some more friendly 
hand should obtain possession of this letter, Bellah 



A TALE OF LA VUXDEE. 225 

had reason to fear that her secret would be disclosed, 
and that she would not be allowed to complete her 
sacrifice ; thus she saw herself in fancy the innocent 
cause of the irreparable misfortunes which might ensue 
from the despair of her betrothed. She passed the long 
hours of the day in these anxious thoughts, but, as 
nothing happened, she persuaded herself at last that 
the letter had either been mislaid in the confusion 
which had followed her fainting fit, or that the 
canoness had found it, and had thought fit to keep 
her secret. 

Fleur-de-Lys appeared at the chateau for a few 
moments in the course of the morning, and then re- 
turned to the forest, where the preparations for the 
departure of the army detained him till the evening. 
As M. de Kergant was to join the expedition, he de- 
termined to leave his daughter and sister in the 
chateau, and confide the care of their safety to 
Kado. In any other circumstances the faithful 
forester would have resigned himself with difficulty 
to a charge which separated him from his master, 
and left himself in a place of safety ; but all his 
scruples yielded to the anxiety which he felt on 
account of his daughter's altered health. Alix, for 
some time back, had lost that fire of youth and that 
proud energy which gave such a remarkable expres- 
sion to her countenance. Like Bellah, she seemed to 
have been touched with an icy hand. But on the 
morning of the day of which we are speaking, she was 
too weak to leave her bed, and Bellah went to visit 
her. In spite of the difference of their condition, the 
habits of their early years, the trials of a period of 
disaster, their exile, and the dangers they had shared 
had united the two young girls with a bond of the 
closest attachment. In Bellah's ardent soul this feel- 
ing was increased by the admiration which she felt for 
Alix's romantic beauty; she traced in her features a 
resemblance to the fabulous queens of the Armorican 



226 bellah; 

legends, so that she had taken great pains to preserve 
the grave and somewhat shy Breton girl from every 
trace of servitude; while Alix in her turn, endowed if 
possible with a still more ardent mind than her young 
mistress — inasmuch as it was more concentrated — 
carried away by her gratitude, and vanquished by the 
influence of a superior mind, had felt her hereditary 
devotion for the noble companion of her childhood in- 
crease almost to a pitch of fanaticism. 

When Mademoiselle de Kergant entered, Alix raised 
herself a little on her bed, and a troubled smile 
passed across her countenance, whose look of deathly 
pallor was increased by a dark blue circle underneath 
the eyes. 

" Good heavens!" said Bellah, taking the hand of 
the unhappy girl, " are you suffering much?" 

"Yes, mademoiselle, much," said Alix. 

' • Perhaps I am the cause. I have not yet spoken 
to your father about your engagement. Forgive me — 
my mind has been so disturbed. Besides, you your- 
self wished me to wait for a few days. But I will 
speak to him now, and will endeavour to procure leave 
for Fleur-de-Genet to remain behind, if it is that 
which weighs upon your mind." 

" No I no! many, many thanks," interrupted the 
forester's daughter, hastily; "my father would never 
forgive him if he staid. Besides it is not that — 1 
am ill. And so you are going to be married, made- 
moiselle?" 

"Tonight." 

" You love him?" said Alix, after a pause. 

" Yes." 

Alix's large eyes, appearing still larger from the 
fever which animated them, flashed at these words with 
a dark fire, but gradually softened as they rested upon 
Bellah's sorrowful countenance. With a sudden move- 
ment she forced Mademoiselle de Kergant to bend 
over her, and, throwing her arms round her waist, 



A TALE (It. 1 LA VKMiliE. liL'7 

she began to sob violently Bollali did not attempt to 
repress this outburst of tenderness; a sympathetic 
feeling made her tears likewise overflow. Seated on 
the edge of the bed, she remained for some time with- 
out speaking, and the tears of the two young girls 
mingled together, while Alix from time to time dried 
the moistened cheek of her beloved rival with the long 
floating tresses of her own hair. In a short time 
Jvado entered, and interrupted the silent interview 
between these two suffering beings, who thus unwit- 
tingly consoled each other. Bellah pressed Alix's 
hand, and left the room after speaking a few kind 
words to the forester. 

M. de Kergant, compelled by his military duties, 
had passed the afternoon in the forest in conference 
with the other chiefs, and did not return to the chateau 
till the first shades of night were darkening over the 
country. He looked extremely happy. Everything 
seemed to favour Fleur-de-Lys's design. The spies, 
who maintained a kind of perpetual telegraph between 
the forest and the republican lines, had seen the fires 
lighted in the enemy's camp, and had heard the tatoo 
beaten; the army of the "Blues" maintained its defen- 
sive attitude, and appeared to be preparing to pass 
the night without any suspicion of what was going 
on in the forest, thus leaving the field open for the 
manoeuvre which had been arranged to take place 
that night. 

The royalist forces, leaving the forest of La Nouee 
on the western side, were to turn the enemy's flank, 
reach Locmine, and from thence descending to the 
coast, unite with the regiment of emigrants which the 
English flotilla was to land on the ensuing day. 
The success of this movement, which was planned 
in concert with the measures of the Vendean generals, 
must be decisive in favour of the king's cause in the 
west of France. At least such was M. de Kergant 's 
hope. Resting against the balustrade of an open 



228 bellah ; 

window, the old gentleman spoke with enthusiasm of 
the happier future which he thought he foresaw, while 
the family, increased by the addition of a few friends, 
were assembled in the saloon, and listened to him in 
silence. Bellah, leaning upon the balcony beside her 
father, was gazing listlessly into the starry heavens, 
when she suddenly started, and laying her hand on 
the marquis's arm — ■ 

" Listen!" said she. 

Everybody hastened to the window and listened 
attentively. In the stillness of the night a deep 
murmur was heard across the distant country, like 
the sound of a stormy sea rising with the tide over 
a pebbly shore. It was the army of the Chouans in full 
march. Fleur-de-Lys at this moment galloped into 
the court-yard, followed by a small group of officers. 

Near Kergant the royalist band divided into two 
columns, which continued to march in parallel lines 
at a short distance from each other: the one division 
following a road which ran behind the park and the ad- 
joining meadows, while the other passed in front of the 
chateau. Fleur-de-Lys's authority had been success- 
ful in lending discipline to this dangerous march, and 
in taming the irregular habits of his gars for this im- 
portant movement. Women, children, old men — all 
those who could not fight — had remained in the forest 
or had souoht refuge in the neighbouring village. 
For nearly two hours a dark compact mass defiled 
through the court-yard and avenue of the chateau, 
without disorder, and without any noise but that in- 
separable from the movement of a great multitude. 
At intervals, however, the panes of glass were shaken 
in their leaden frames, when the heavy tumbrels and 
the massive wheels of the ammunition waggons rolled 
over the pavement of the court-yard. 

From time to time the gars, recognising Fleur-de- 
Lys, who was standing at one of the open and illumi- 
nated windows of the chateau, raised their weapons and 



A TALE OP LA VENDEE. 220 

waved their hats in the air. These silent demon- 
strations had a singular and striking character. The 
young general, with the small body of officers especi- 
ally devoted to his person, intended to rejoin the head 
of the columns immediately after the celebration of 
his marriage. 

It was eleven o'clock: Mademoiselle de Kergant, 
who had disappeared from the saloon upon the en- 
trance of the young chief, now returned leaning upon 
her father's arm. She was dressed in white, simply 
and without any ornament, yet still not without that 
elegance which a woman, in spite of herself, seeks to 
maintain even in the preparations for her execution. 
The company immediately passed into the adjoining- 
hall, where the marquis's family and guests were as- 
sembled for the last time round his table. The repast 
was a melancholy one. The full dress of the ladies, 
the splendour of the lights, and the festive appear- 
ance which the old canoness had striven to throw 
around this betrothal festival, were all insufficient to 
overcome the feeling of approaching danger and tine 
prospect of a speedy separation. Andree, thoughtful 
and silent, from time to time shuddered convulsively, 
Bellah preserved her usual dignified appearance; but 
her extreme paleness, her wandering glance, and the 
contraction which marred the regular arch of her brows, 
betrayed the internal struggle of her soul. Fleur-de- 
Lys alone appeared insensible to the apprehensions of 
the others, and gave himself wholly up to the enjoy- 
ment of his triumph. His radiant brow, his animat- 
ing words, began to dissipate the cloud and raise the 
sinking spirits of the party; when suddenly a shade 
darkened the fine features of the young captain, and 
a sentence which he had begun remained unfinished. 
The door opened and Alix appeared: she approached 
the table slowly and silently. M. de Kergant went up 
to her and gently blamed her for her imprudence, but 
Alix answered in a scarcely audible voice that she was 



230 15ELLAH ; 

better, and that as she felt able she was determined 
to be present at her young mistress's marriage. 

M. de Kergant, touched by this mark of attach- 
ment, insisted no farther, and the forester's daughter 
took her seat near Andree; but her wretched coun- 
tenance, her sombre costume, her trembling step, and 
her unexpected appearance, had again closed every 
heart and every lip, as if she had been a presage of 
approaching evil. Fleur-de-Lys himself seemed anxi- 
ous : his conversation became broken and abrupt, 
and upon seeing that he was observed, he slightly 
blushed. All conversation at length entirely ceased, 
and the repast was concluded in an icy silence as the 
chapel bell sounded the hour of midnight, announcing 
that the priest was at the altar, and was waiting 
for the betrothed. 

The chapel of Kergant, a building of the most 
simple gothic style of architecture, rose on the left of 
the chateau on a slight eminence a few feet higher 
than the pavement of the court-yard. This mound 
was almost circular. On the side which looked 
towards the open country it was bounded by a wall 
of perpendicular rock which plunged into a ravine, 
and which seemed to form a continuation of the 
boundary wall of the chateau. Towards the court it 
descended in grassy slopes, intersected here and there 
by low walls of masonrv. A flight of about a dozen 
steps led from the court-yard to the grass-plot, which 
stretched before the chapel porch as if it were a 
portion of the village church-yard. Between this 
hillock and the moat of the chateau was an open 
space communicating with the country, and which 
had served as a passage for the royalist hands. On 
the left a farm-yard adjoined the chapel, while the 
other sides of the elongated space which formed the 
court-yard of the chateau, were enclosed by stables 
and other out-buildings. 

The movement and tumult of the march had ceased; 



A TALE OF LA VENDEE. 23 1 

about three hundred men alone remained as a body- 
guard for the chief. Half of this troop occupied the 
avenue with small detachments posted at regular 
distances, the rest surrounded the steps leading to the 
chapel in a motionless semicircle. By the soft clear 
light of a starry night the uniform of the royal chasseurs 
might he distinguished. They opened their ranks to 
the silent procession which issued from the chateau, 
and gave a military salute as they passed. A few 
moments afterwards, as the sound of the little bell 
within announced that the ceremony had begun, the 
soldiers, uncovering their heads, knelt down, their 
hands clasped, and their muskets lying on the ground 
by their sides. 

A few wax candles lent a feeble light to the interior 
of the chapel, leaving part of the company enveloped 
in shade. Fleur-de-Lys and Bellah were kneeling 
before the little balustrade which surrounded the steps 
of the altar, while the priest, an old gray-headed man, 
stretched his hand, upon which was the episcopal 
ring, over the heads of the betrothed; the Marquis 
de Kergant was kneeling upon a large slab covered 
with armorial bearings, a few feet behind his daugh- 
ter, with his sister by his side. Andree stood near 
them: a strange expression of anger and impatience 
sat on her features, in place of that air of childish 
grace which was usual to them. A little farther back, 
Alix was standing, leaning upon Kado's arm, her eyes 
fixed, her features strained, as if she were listening for 
some expected sound. A group of royalist officers 
and the marquis's servants filled up the dark nave of 
the little church. 

The irrevocable moment of the union had arrived; 
already the priest had put the usual solemn questions. 
Bellah raised her face, paler than the snowy veil 
which fell around it, and directing one look of entreaty 
to heaven, she stretched out her trembling hand for 
the ring that was to fetter her for life ; but the bride- 



232 bellah; 

groom, instead of placing it there, allowed the symboli- 
cal circle to fall upon the steps of the altar — his name 
had been called outside the church in a most mourn- 
ful tone. He rose. One common feeling of anxiety 
and terror was expressed upon every countenance. 
After a short interval, the same distant and plaintive 
voice repeated the name of Fleur-de-Lys, and then 
the trampling of a horse became audible. 

The young man rushed out of the chapel, followed 
by the crowd, and strode hastily over the space 
which lay between the porch and the steps. A horse 
bathed in foam was panting at the bottom, while the 
soldiers were assisting the rider to dismount, who ap- 
peared to sustain himself with difficulty; his face 
and breast were stained with blood. On being told 
that Fleur-de-Lys was before him, he looked at him for 
an instant with an awful fixedness, murmured the 
word, "Betrayed!" and fell stone dead at the feet of 
his chief. 

At the same moment, as if to confirm the words of 
the unfortunate man, a dull heavy sound was heard 
in the distance. Fleur-de-Lys raised his arm to im- 
pose silence, while some of the soldiers threw them- 
selves on the ground, and laid their ears close to the 
earth. The same noise, like the echo of a subter- 
ranean storm was again heard and was repeated more 
than once. 

" It is cannon," said Fleur-de-Lys; " the army is 
attacked! Order our horses forward!" 

While this order was being hastily obeyed, the 
priest, stooping over the body of the unfortunate mes- 
senger, strove in vain to discover some trace of life. 
The soldiers, plunged in a gloomy surprise, surrounded 
this melancholy group, while the inhabitants of the 
chateau crowded in disorder at the top of the steps 
that led up the bank, and some of the women were 
weeping. 

"My men," said Fleur-de-Lys, in a loud voice, 



A TALE OP LA VENDEE. 233 

' ' we hear the guns of the ' Blues, ' but we hear our own 
as well. Our companions are fighting! they call for us! 
In less than half an hour wc shall be in their ranks. 
In the name of heaven and of the king let us march! 
The roads are open, follow — " 

Fleur-de-Lys was interrupted by a noise which 
seemed to spread up the whole length of the avenue. 
The cry, "To arms! The 'Blues' are upon us!" was 
repeated one after the other by all the sentinels, and 
then a sharp fire of musketry was suddenly heard 
close at hand. The young general's foot was already 
in the stirrup; he withdrew it hastily, and drawing 
his sword — "A moi! les gars/" he exclaimed, and 
clashed down the avenue. Every one who could bear 
arms sprang after him. The priest was the only 
man remaining in the vast enclosure of the court- 
yard. ^ 

"We will go and pray, my daughters," said he, 
moving towards the chapel with a trembling step. 

Mademoiselle de Kergant and Alix followed the 
old man to the foot of the altar, and prostrated them- 
selves at his side; the other women, incapable of 
raising their thoughts to heaven at such a moment, 
remained outside on the grass-plot and under the 
archway of the porch, expressing their terror in low 
broken sentences. Several of the windows of the 
chateau were open and blazing with light. The 
abandoned horses, neighing at the smell of powder, 
galloped wildly up and down the court-yard, which 
was partially illuminated by the reflection from the 
windows, and by the bright light of the stars. 

But the rattling of musketry, mingled with groans 
and other confused noises, became each moment 
louder and nearer. At intervals the deep roar of the 
cannon thundered in the distance, overpowering all 
other sounds. Suddenly the fire slackened, rare and 
isolated shots alone seemed to indicate that the strug- 
gle was continued; then the tramp of hurried steps 



234 bellah; 

was heard, and the entrance to the avenue was 
blocked up by a band of Chouans in disorder. The 
women who were scattered in groups near the chapel 
uttered piercing cries. Bellah ran to join them. A 
discharge, the light from which flashed through the 
leaves, made the windows of the chapel shake: the 
enemy was at hand. 

Fleur-de-Lys's troop, already reduced by one half, 
returned the fire, and dispersing about the court-yard, 
began to reload their pieces. Bellah, perceiving among 
them her father's tall figure and grey locks, pushed 
through the crowd of wailing women with a gesture 
of despair, and opened a way for herself to the head 
of the steps; but there she stopped, struck with a new 
sight; for the close and regular ranks of the republi- 
can soldiers were seen issuing from the avenue, and a 
young man on horseback, bareheaded, and waving his 
sabre, galloped upon the flank of the column. By the 
flashes of the musketry Bellah recognised Herve. 

"Yield! yield!" cried the young colonel; "yield 
in the name of heaven! We are masters of the 
chateau!" 

As he spoke a shower of balls, issuing from every 
window (if tin:', building, stretched about twenty 
Chouans on the earth. Those who remained ap- 
pealed for a moment uncertain and hesitating. 

"Yield!" reiterated the republican officer; "the 
chateau is ours! " 

" To the chapel!" answered Fleur-de-Lys's trumpet 
voice; "to the chapel! Heaven and the king! Hea- 
ven and the king! A nioi! l<>s gars /" 

Herve sprang from his horse, and placing himself 
at the head of his men, gave them his orders rapidly, 
adding a few touching words recommending to their 
humanity the innocent creatures who were already 
shut up in the chapel. 

"Make your mind easy, colonel," said a grave, 
manly voice; "we know that your jewel of a sister is 



A TALE OF I,A VENJIEE. Z.j.) 

there; that is enough for us, and wo will put our 
gloves on.'' 

"Don't waste any more time in firing," said Herve, 
hastily; ''use the hayonet alone, and forward!" 

Saying these words, and crossing the court-yard di- 
agonally, he threw himself into the open space which 
lay between the avenue and the chapel hank, followed 
by a party of grenadiers at a rapid pace; the rest 
of the troop followed more slowly, keeping their 
ranks. 

The royalist chasseurs had already scaled the hank, 
while some of their number entered the chapel, roughly 
pushing back into it the women, who were frantic 
with terror. They then posted themselves at every 
window, at every opening, and even in the little open 
tower which rose above the roof, while others oc- 
cupied the grass-plot even to the edge of the slope. 
Fleur-de-Lys was among the latter, and placed him- 
self between the porch and the steps, his sword in 
the one hand, in the other a pistol. The Marquis de 
Kergaut and Kado, their faces black with powder, 
were at the chieftain's side, with their muskets charged. 
The panting abrupt voice of Fleur-de-Lys alone broke 
at intervals the melancholy silence which reigned 
upon the lawn and in the chapel. 

The detachment commanded by Herve was advancing 
rapidly towards the hillock, and Fleur-de-Lys raised 
his sword. Two successive volleys, given with that 
fearful precision which distinguished the Breton fire, 
strewed the pavement with republican corpses; but 
Ilerves foot was already upon the lowest step of the 
ascent. 

"J. moi! les Mayencais /'' cried he, and as he spoke 
his grenadiers rushed up the slope, and advanced from 
every side on the space lying before the chapel. 

The gor.v opposed to the furious impetuosity of 
their assailants the energy of a desperate resistance. 
A terrible struggle ensued hand to hand, for on both 



23G BELLAH; 

sides the firing was over. No sound was heard but 
the sound of steel striking against steel, the heavy 
crash of the but- ends of the muskets, and a confused 
murmur of stifled groans and curses; while groups of 
men, engaged in mortal struggle, rolled pell-mell to 
the foot of the hillock. 

While this raging combat was at the hottest, a red 
light was suddenly reflected in the glass of the arched 
windows over the porch. In a few seconds it increased 
rapidly, and lighted up the whole court-yard with an 
ominous glare. Some pieces of burning wadding 
having fallen at the foot of the buildings which were 
opposite the chapel, had set fire to the heaps of dried 
straw, and the fire had communicated to the interior. 
Showers of sparks were flying through the air, while 
dense clouds of smoke, mingled with flames, were 
already issuing from the windows of the barns and 
were bursting through the thatched roofs. 

The combat, over which the increasing conflagration 
shed a brilliant light, was continued with still greater 
violence: blows were now given with a more prompt 
and certain hand. The wounded and the dead, piled 
at the foot of the bank, served as ladders to enable 
fresh detachments of republicans to scale the slope, 
while the Chmians were reinforced from the chapel, and 
thus an equality was preserved between the foes. 
Herve, who was wounded in the face, and twice repulsed 
to the foot of the steps, had at last reached the centre 
of the lawn, forcing his way with his sabre; here he 
found himself face to face with Fleur-de-Lys, who, 
invulnerable as ever, was standing with his foot upon 
a heap of dying men, his long hair flying wild, and 
waving his bloody sword. The two young men gave 
a cry as they recognised each other, their swords 
crossed, but that of Fleur-de-Lys was broken at the 
first shock. At this fatal moment the white form of 
a woman appeared at one of the chapel windows. 

" Herve!" cried she in a piercing voice, heard even 



A TALE OF I,A VENDEE. 237 

above the din of the combat; " Herve! they are killing 
my father! " 

Herve's arm remained suspended, his eyes turned 
instantly from his disarmed enemy, and he perceived 
the Marquis de Kergant a few paces off, with his 
back against the wall, and surrounded by a menacing 
circle of grenadiers. 

" My men! Bruidoux!" shouted Herve, rushing 
towards the group, "spare the old man!" 

As he spoke a pistol shot was heard behind him, 
and he fell to the ground with a faint groan. Fleur- 
de-Lys, who had been instigated to this base action 
more by hatred than courage, then threw away his 
pistol and picked up the sword of the wounded man, 
but Serjeant Bruidoux had seen the murderous act, 
and hastily took aim at the young chief. 

" Coward!" cried he, and firing, the ball pierced 
the breast of Fleur-de-Lys. 

Xone of the details of this scene, which passed in 
less time than it has taken to relate it, had escajted 
the republican soldiers who remained below. The 
officer upon whom the command of the detachment 
now devolved, raised his voice: "Down from the 
bank!" cried he; " down from the bank, all!" 

The grenadiers obeyed, and sprang down upon the 
pavement in much disorder, while a discharge of mus- 
ketry swept the grass-plot clear of every living object. 

" To the assault!" cried the officer. " Let us re- 
venge our colonel ! ' ' 

The whole troop then rushed up the esplanade after 
him, but in spite of the most intrepid efforts, they were 
compelled to fall back from the. effects of the shot 
fired from the barricaded porch and the downward 
discharge from the windows and the belfry. The sol- 
diers, obeying a fresh commander, then scattered them- 
selves about the court-yard, where the heat of the con- 
flagration was becoming almost insupportable; some 
knelt at the foot of the hillock protected by the slope, 



238 BEHAii; 

and fired into the belfry; others posted themselves here 
and there behind pieces of furniture, horse-troughs 
and carts, which were dragged out of the burning sheds, 
and, thus entrenched, they were able to keep up their 
fire with less danger, and with a success which was 
proved by the gradually slackening efforts of their 
adversaries. 

Suddenly a, gars of gigantic stature emerged from 
the porch, and advanced alone upon the grass-plot. 
Bruidoux, who was kneeling at the foot of the slope, 
rose hastily. 

" Comrades," shouted he, with all the power of his 
lungs, " don't fire! it is the old forester — the one who 
saved my life I Yield yourself, brave fellow! yield 
yourself!" 

It was in truth Kado : he did not seem to hear 
the Serjeant's voice, hut profiting by the momentary 
truce which was afforded him by the astonished re- 
publicans, he disengaged from the heap of corpses two 
bloody forms — those of Herve and Fleur-de-Lys — 
and raisinc; them on his shoulders he ascain re-entered 
the chapel with his double burden. 

•'Yield!" cried Bruidoux, loudly; "yield! the 
flames have caught the belfry ! the chapel is on fire!" 

JS T o voice replied: the chairs and forms which bar- 
ricaded the entrance of the porch were pushed out- 
side, and the massive door of the little church was 
closed with a crash. 

T lie fearful intelligence which Bruidoux had commu- 
nicated to the forester was but too true. A few frag- 
ments from the burning embers of the outhouses bad 
alio-lited noon the dry thatch of the barn contiguous 
to the chapel, and tongues of flame were already 
stretching up and twisting round the belfry. Two or 
three Chouans appeared suspended in the wood-work 
in the midst of the smoke, and were re-loading their 
pieces, while shots still came at intervals from the 
lower windows of the chapel. 



A TALU (II' LA VKNlJl',!-'.. 31)9 

Bruidoux approached tlio officer wlio hail taken 
Howe's place. " Captain," said lie, " are you going 
to do nothing for these unhappy creatures?" 

The officer, whose brow was violently contracted, 
clenched his hands upon the hilt of his sabre, the point 
of which was deep in the earth, and contemplated with 
a sombre eye the progress of the conflagration. "What 
do you wish mo to do?" said he: "you see they still 
keep on firing. My duty forbids me to sacrifice a 
single man uselessly. Look at the faces of those fel- 
lows up there: they will never yield." 

" I'll speak to them," answered Bruidoux. " Only 
allow me to promise them their lives." 

" Promise anything," said the officer, turning away 
his head; "it is too dreadful." 

Bruidoux rushed up the bank and sprang upon the 
esplanade ; two balls pierced his clothes, hut he held 
on his course and gained the shelter of the porch. Then 
battering the door with the but-end of his musket — 

"Life for all!" he cried. "Kado! ladies! will 
you have life, liberty, everything — we promise every- 
thing, only come out!" 

The honest Serjeant spoke in vain; either the noise 
of the conflagration prevented his voice being heard, 
or the crimes which had stained this bloody war 
made the Chouans doubt his good faith. He persisted 
nevertheless in the devoted mission which he had 
taken upon himself, until his comrades' cries warned 
him that the roof of the chapel was about to fall in 
and would cut off his retreat. 

Meanwhile, in the interior of the chapel, the pave- 
ment was covered with the heaps of corpses; every 
instant fresh victims fell from the windows or rolled 
down the steps of the little staircase which led to the 
belfry. The roof was pierced by large cracks 
through which issued clouds of thick, black smoke, 
forming a heavy canopy, which was rent asunder at 
intervals by sheets of flame. The old priest lay lifeless 



240 bellah; 

upon the altar; the canoness and one of the maid- 
servants of the chateau lay dead at his side, while 
the other female domestics were lamenting and wring- 
ing their hands. Bellah and Alix, their hair loose 
and dishevelled, were upon their knees giving as- 
sistance to Andree who had fainted from fear, and, 
from time to time, turning terrified and anxious looks 
upon Herve and Fleur-de-Lys, who were supported 
side by side against the marble altar. 

At the foot of the altar-steps, the forester, assisted 
by a young gars, the only one except himself who had 
remained unwounded, had succeeded in removing a pile 
of dead bodies from a slab, carved with coats of arms, 
which seemed to mark the entrance to some family 
vault; then with the help of one of the iron bars of the 
balustrade, they tore up some of the pavement round 
the stone, and lifting the heavy mass of granite with 
some trouble, they leaned it against the altar, sup- 
porting it by degrees as it rose with fragments of 
weapons and furniture. By slow degrees one of the 
ends was raised two feet above the earth, and the 
opening disclosed the topmost steps of a staircase 
which descended into the vault. Two bars of iron, 
firmly fixed upon the first step of this flight, sustained 
the stone at the two corners. The young gars who 
had assisted Kado then seized his musket and re- 
turned to the window, but fell almost immediately, 
pierced to the heart. 

As soon as the entrance of the crvpt appeared 
practicable, a crowd of women besieged it with frantic 
eagerness. Kado, earnestly representing to them that 
he alone would not have strength enough to raise the 
stone again, which was threatened with danger by the 
violence of their movements, and that thus all chance 
of escape would be cut off, forced them to stoop 
down one after the other, and disappear in the dark- 
ness beneath. Then hastening towards the altar, the 
forester raised with one arm the drooping and inanimate 



A TALE OP LA VENDEE. 211 

form of Andree, dragged along the despairing Bcl- 
lah with the other, and returned to the half-opened 
entrance — 

"A T o, no! not me! — Herve!" murmured the young- 
girl, trying to disengage herself from the powerful 
grasp which urged her on. 

"Make your mind easy, mademoiselle," answered 
Kado. "I promise you to save him; but go down, 
go down, or I will answer for nothing." 

Mademoiselle de Kergant obeyed. Kado de- 
scended after her carrying Herve's sister. He re- 
appeared in a few minutes, but by this time the 
chapel was filled with a thick smoke. 

"Alix, my child!" cried the forester. "Oh, hea- 
vens! this light dazzles me, this smoke blinds me — 
where are you?" 

" Here, father," said Alix, "close to you." 

"Good, my child, good! What a night! good 
heavens! but can you see in this dreadful gloom? 
Where is the chief? He must be saved first. I will 
save our young master afterwards, if heaven permits 
it. Where is he? Where is Fleur-de-Lys?" 

"This is he, father," answered the girl. 

The forester raised the motionless body which 
Alix pointed out to him, and entered the yawning 
crypt with precaution. 

"Come, Alix," cried he, "come! You must not 
wait a moment longer. Follow me! You are fol- 
lowing me, are you not?" 

" Yes, my father," replied Alix, raising herself. 
But instead of following him, she approached the 
wounded man who was still lying at the foot of the 
the altar, and leaning over him — 

"Fleur-de-Lys," she said, "I told you that if you 
ever betrayed me, you would learn to know me. Do 
you know me now?" 

A sigh escaped from the lips of the wounded 
man. 

Q 



242 ijellau; 

"What base treachery!" resumed the young girl, 
whose words came hissing between her teeth; "what 
treachery and what barbarity! By what cruel bonds 
was I not bound to j r ou! Ah! you knew well that 
I would suiter everything, everything — rather than 
reveal to my father the shame of his child— rather 
than wound the heart of my innocent rival — and I 
said nothing. Poor Bellah! I have been the cause of 
deep grief to her, but the most bitter I kept to my- 
self! She has never blushed for your infamy. She 
may weep for you, but she does not know you!" 

During these words, Fleur-de-Lys's countenance 
wore an expression of intense suffering. He appeared 
to collect with difficulty his expiring strength. His 
lips half opened — 

" Listen to me!" murmured he, "listen: I never 
loved but you. Pride — ambition — were too strong for 
me — but, before heaven, I never loved but you! 
Alix, take my hand — you are my wife!" 

" Unhappy that I am!" cried she; "he is deceiv- 
ing me even now, but I love him! I will save him!" 

As she spoke she twisted her arms round the body 
of the young chief, and struggled towards the en- 
trance of the vault. 

Her lather was standing there, looking at her with 
a terrible glance. Alix staggered back, her knees 
failed her, and her burden rolled at her feet. 

" Pather," cried she, raising her hands in anguish, 
" let me die, but save him!'' 

" Neither you nor him, " said the forester in a hol- 
low voice — ' ' dishonour has never entered that vault! ' ' 

lie turned as he spoke, and, spurning with his 
his foot the bars of iron, they gave way, and the se- 
pulchral stone fell heavily. 

' ' Let us pray to heaven, now, ' ' said the old man 
in a solemn voice. " Pray for him if you love him." 

A piercing shriek from Alix was his only answer. 
It was the last. Torrents of flame poured into the 



A TALE OF LA VENDEE. 213 

chapel — a dreadful crash was heard — thick showers of 
sparks issued from the beams which were breaking on 
every side, and the roof gave way at once, entombing 
in its burning mass both the living and the dead. 

One hour had been sufficient for the work of des- 
truction. When the pale light of dawn mingled with 
the expiring flames of the conflagration, it shone in 
all that enclosure of smoking ruins only upon a soli- 
tude covered with human bodies. 



241 



CHAPTER XXI. 



The vault which had given shelter to all that now 
remained of the family and household of Kergant, 
extended in a circnlar form in the interior of the little 
mound upon which the chapel had stood, and was 
arched over with strong masses of masonry abutting 
on one side on walls of living rock. The damp 
soil was covered here and there with funereal stones; 
while a few fissures in the rock alone admitted a scanty 
supply of air into the thick atmosphere of the crypt. 

Thus, when the granite stone which closed the only 
exit, had fallen back into its former position, no light 
broke in upon the gloomy shadows of this horrible 
place. The heavy crash of the falling roof, which 
shook the vault beneath, informed the unhappy 
captives that the secret of their retreat must now 
remain unknown to any living being, and that their 
tomb was, as it were, sealed above their heads. 

Mademoiselle de Kergant alone preserved suffi- 
cient presence of mind to feel all the horror of this 
last blow. The other women, mute, and as if struck 
with idiotcy, were sobbing in one corner, but Bellah 
sprang up the staircase, and endeavoured with convul- 
sive energy to push back the stone. The strength of 
several men would have been insufficient for the task, 
and Bellah slowly descended again, pressing her 
burning brow between her hands, and, feeling her way, 
she regained the place where she had left Andree 



A TALE OF LA VEKDHE. 245 

stretched upon the ground, with her head against 
the wall. 

" May heaven spare you the pangs of awakening, 
poor innocent!" said she, kneeling down beside her. 

As she .spoke, a moan issued from the lips of the 
wounded man who was lying near Andree, and whom 
Bellah had heard Kado name as Fleur-de-Lys. 

"Do you suffer much, sir?" said she, bending 
over him. 

"Is it you, Bellah?" murmured the wounded 
man. 

Mademoiselle de Kergant gave a piercing shriek, 
which sounded as if it came from the depths 
of a mother's heart. "Herve! my Herve!" cried 
she, and her hand rapidly passed over the bleeding- 
breast and forehead of the young man, but with so light 
a touch, that to Herve it seemed like the fluttering 
of a bird's wino-s. 

After a few seconds employed in fervent prayer, 
mingled with a pang of remorse that she could even 
for a moment have forgotten her dead father, Bellah 
resumed more quickly — 

"It is you, then, Herve, you! and we are united 
again at last! But at what a time, and in what a 
place! You do not know " 

" I do know," interrupted Herve; " I was in great 
pain, but I did not lose my consciousness. I know 
where we are; only I — I dare not ask you — my 
sister! my darling little Andree — " 

" She is here — she lives; she has fainted again, 
but she is not hurt! Here she is close to you." 

" Alas! ought I to feel grateful for this ? Would 

it not be better for her Tell me, Bellah — you are 

brave — the stone is closed again, is not it — and all 
are dead above?" 

" All are dead unless by a miracle," said Bellah. 

" Then, no one knows that we are heres" 

" No one, I believe." 



246 beixah ; 

" In the name of heaven! do not let Andree know 
that, dear Bellah, till— till the end." 

"Hush, Herve! hush; she is coming to herself; 
she will hear you." 

Andree was slowly recovering her senses; she 
stretched out her arms, and turned upon her couch of 
stone like a child awakening in its cradle. Mademoi- 
selle de Kergant, bending over her, spoke to her in the 
most caressing tones. The poor little thing at first 
murmured a few unconnected words, and then the 
terrible truth dispersing the clouds that still hung 
aver her mind — 

"Where am I?" cried she. 

Bellah, covering her with kisses, told her she was 
in safety, and placed Herve's hand in hers. She 
then informed her of what it was impossible to con- 
ceal from her — their irreparable losses and all those 
events which had forced them to take refuse in the 
vault; but she assured her that when all was quiet 
they would no doubt be delivered from their prison. 
These assurances, joined to the presence of her brother 
whom she had never expected to see again, calmed 
Andrec's agitation, and a few rays of light which 
penetrated into the vault by the fissure in the rock 
and the interstices of the masonry, also contributed 
to quiet her mind. 

The two girls uniting their strength, assisted Herve 
into a, position which might render his wound less 
painful. Flcur-de-Lys's ball had broken his shoulder- 
blade, and the agony of every movement forced faint 
groans from his lips in spite of himself. While he 
strove to conceal these involuntary expressions of 
suffering by bis tranquil, nay, almost cheerful lan- 
guage, Andree, joining in his pious fraud, strove on 
her side to entertain him with her innocent prattle, 
though it was mingled with silent tears. 

Bellah left them from time to time, and approached 
the peasant women who were huddled against the 



A TALE OF LA VENDEE. 247 

rock, now lamenting loudly, now sinking into a state 
of dull apathy. The power of resistance- to great 
misfortunes is not measured by the strength of the body 
but by the force of the soul. ISellah, whose delicate 
constitution had been rendered still more enfeebled 
by many weeks of suffering, had found new life in this 
extremity of misfortune under which her companions 
with stronger bodies but weaker minds, had comple- 
tely given way. Mademoiselle de Kergant, addressing 
these unfortunate creatures in turn, called them by 
their names, pressed their hands, reminded them of 
their faith, and of the God who would not fail them 
in their hour of distress, and succeeded at last in 
inspiring them with some feelings of resignation. 
This noble girl returned many times to the afflicted 
group in the course of each hour, while they, weeping 
bitterly, kissed her hands and held her fast by the 
skirts of her dress, imploring her not to leave them. 
They seemed to look upon her as the angel of charity. 

Herve's wound gradually became less painful, for 
he had lost much blood, which had helped to lower the 
fever; and Andree, happy in seeing him suffer less, and 
trusting implicitly to the modified account she had re- 
ceived of the disaster, was fast recovering her accus- 
tomed vivacity, unsuspicious that all the hopes of her 
youth were entombed in the narrow limits of that fune- 
real vault. She was only irritating by her innocent 
dreams their bitter anguish, and Mademoiselle de Ker- 
gant endeavoured to moderate hopes which must short- 
ly be so cruelly undeceived, and reminded her gently 
of all the bloodshed and mourning above their heads. 

" Bellah," interrupted Herve, " you must forgive 
me for the share I have had in the blows under which 
you are suffering? I expect this forgiveness from 
your goodness — your justice." 

" How can I accuse you, Hcrvc?" answered she, 
"when I look at that wound which you received, in 
attempting to save my poor father?" 



248 bellaii; 

"Tell him that you love him still; that would be 
better worth hearing," said Mademoiselle de Pelven. 

"Oh! do not, dearest Andree !" interrupted 

Bellah. 

" What harm could there be?" persisted Andree, 
with emotion, through which might still he discerned 
her usual childish thoughtlessness. ' ' Our misfortunes 
are fearful, I know. I feel that as much as you do; 
but why should we, on that account, reject the con- 
solation which heaven has granted to two poor or- 
phans? All has been directed from above; and I 
bless Providence, while weeping for those who are 
gone, that you were not permitted to become the 
prey of that bad man — of that wretched Fleur-de-Lys. 
For you were about to sacrifice yourself: Ilerve shall 
know that. Besides, it is of no use now attempt- 
ing to conceal your real feelings. Do you remember 
your letter — your famous letter? Well, I took it, and 
I sent it to him — to Herve: and, I doubt not he knows 
it by heart by this time." 

Mademoiselle de Kergant seemed at first quite con- 
founded by this revelation, and began to falter a 
few reproachful words; but the trembling hand of 
the wounded man having met hers, she was silent, 
her head was bent as if with shame, and tears once 
more bedewed her face. Andree moved a little 
farther off, leaving the lovers to their silent commu- 
nion, the delight of which was alloyed by greater 
bitterness than she dreamt of. 

^^Yhile Andree was trying to enlarge one of the 
fissures in the wall, to pass the time away, she felt 
one of the stones, which projected a little, shako 
beneath her touch, and she easily pulled it out. A 
brighter light was immediately diffused through the 
dungeon, and Andree called to her sister with a cry 
of joy. The removal of the stone had left an opening 
in the wall, at the height of the spring of the arch, 
through which a hand could easily be passed. This 



A TAI.E OF LA VENDEE. 249 

hole became smaller and smaller as it penetrated 
through the thickness of the masonry by an irre- 
gular fissure to the outer air, and according to all 
appearances opened upon one of the sloping walls 
which in some places supported the terrace. Bel- 
lah strove in vain to enlarge this opening. The 
weight of the arch, while it had displaced some of 
these enormous stones, had only consolidated them 
more firmly together ; and the sole advantage which 
the captives derived from this discovery, was being 
able to breathe a less stifling atmosphere, and to 
distinguish through a loop-hole two or three inches 
wide, and several feet in thickness, a small portion 
of the pavement of the court-yard and the shadows 
of the trees thrown upon the grass. 

This distant vision of the exterior world of life, 
of liberty, and of sunshine, gave Mademoiselle de 
Kergant a most painful feeling. Andree, on the 
contrary, was confirmed in the hope of a speedy 
deliverance by this prospect, confined though it was, 
and indeed believed it to be already more than 
half effected. She returned from time to time to 
feast her eyes upon the little portion of pavement 
which was visible through the crevice, and watched 
with agitated impatience for the appearance of their 
deliverers.. 

Bellah, profiting by one of those moments when 
Andree was absorbed in this vain contemplation, 
asked Herve in a low voice whether he thought it 
possible that their cries could be heard outside 
through this opening, of which she described the 
form and the dimensions. Herve replied that he did 
not think it was possible, on account of the depth of 
the masonry, and the irregularities of the interstice, 
which would break and stifle the sound of the voice. 

"In any case," added he, "the sounds which 
might reach the open air would be too uncertain to 
fix the attention of an indifferent observer, and if any 



250 BELLAII ; 

one should come to search for the corpse of a relation 
or a friend, he would certainly do so amongst the ruins 
of the chapel; thus we should hear the echo of his steps 
over our heads, and it would then be time enough to try 
this last resource. Till then our cries would only in- 
crease the horror of this place without being of any use, 
and Andree and the others could no longer deceive 
themselves as to the probability of their escape. Oh, 
Bellali ! with what joy would I give all of life that 1 
still possess could it spare you and them all the agony 
which I see before us!" 

" But, I have been thinking, Herve — all is not yet 
lost. They may come, they certainly will come, to 
bury the unfortunate — " 

Bellali'; voice died upon her lips at the thought. 

After a pause Herve resumed — 

" Bellali, I cannot consent to deceive you, and you 
would not wish me to do so. They will doubtless come, 
but not for two or three days, and perhaps longer. Ter- 
ror is spread through the country. I have often seen 
fields of slaughter like this abandoned for a longer 
period than that. And even if they do come, how 
should they know the secret of this vault? Would 
you then have strength sufficient to cry out? and 
would that cry be heard? It is very doubtful; it 
is not probable." 

"Then, do you mean," said Bellali, "that we must 
quite despair, Herve ? Speak without fear, for you 
judge rightly of my courage." 

" We have one hope," answered Herve, " one only 
hope — Francis. His duty attached him to the gene- 
ral's suite. If he has survived the battle which was 
fought last night, I doubt not but that he — -I do not 
know what he could do — but it seems to me that I 
should save him if I was in his place and ho here. 
Poor Francis!" 

So the long hours passed away. Day was beginning 
to fade, and the crypt by degrees resumed its former 



A TALE or LA VENDEE. 251 

gloomy obscurity. Andree had stolen back to her 
brother's side. She began to suspect that she had 
been deceived, and she spoke no more; large tears 
trickled down her cheeks; and when the last rays of 
daylight died away, she could no longer contain the 
expression of her anguish. Words of despair, mingled 
with heavy sighs, escaped from her lips, and Bellah 
held her long in her arms Avithout being able to calm 
her. Even ITerve, upon whom the fever had returned 
with double force as the evening advanced, had great 
difficulty in preserving the mastery over his reason. 

In another part of the vault, the poor servants pre- 
sented a still more miserable spectacle. Night had 
destroyed all the last remains of hope which had 
till then supported them, and when the first pangs of 
hunger gave them a fearful presentiment of the doom 
that was awaiting them, they were suddenly roused 
from their torpor with all the furious energy of their 
rude instincts. They rushed up and down the vault 
as if they were insane, knocking the walls with their 
heads, and uttering savage cries. These transports 
had something coarse and repulsive in them which 
completely subdued the sensitive mind of Andree; she 
ceased sobbing, and soon sank into a state of profound 
torpor, like the sleep of childhood or of death. The 
other prisoners, yielding at last to the pious consola- 
tions which their young mistress ceased not to urge on 
them, and overcome also by exhaustion, relapsed by 
degrees into silence and apparent insensibility. 

We shall pass rapidly over the succeeding hours. 
Mademoiselle de Kergant spent them for the most 
part in prayer. Ilerve, no longer able to resist the 
burning fever by which he was consumed, allowed 
strange unconnected words to escape at times from 
his lips, while his hot hands sought the cool walls of 
their dungeon. Bellah did not attempt to arouse him 
from this state of delirium, which at least enabled 
him to forget his misery; and towards morning, she 



252 bellah; 

yielded in spite of herself to the drowsiness which 
weighed her down, and to the weakness which already 
began to disturb her brain. 

She was awakened by Herve calling her repeat- 
edly: "Bellah! Bellah! listen!" said he; "I hear 
footsteps — there are people in the chapel!" 

Bellah at first fancied that the wounded man was 
the dupe of his feverish illusions; but listening atten- 
tively, she also distinctly heard the noise of steps 
overhead. She instantly rose, and feeling for the 
staircase, mounted the steps, and struck repeated 
blows with her hand upon the slab' that blocked up 
the entrance. Some gleams of daylight had by this 
time again penetrated into the crypt. 

" No, no! not there," said Herve. " It is impos- 
sible that they should hear you! To the opening in 
the wall, dear Bellah, and call — call with all your 
strength!" 

Bellah hastily descended the stairs, and approach- 
ing her lips to the sort of loophole which they had 
accidentally discovered the evening before, she gave 
several piercing cries, then stopped, holding her breath 
that she might hear better. 

" Oh heavens!" murmured she, after a few minutes, 
" I hear nothing more, Herve — they have left the 
chapel!" 

Herve gave no answer. 

" If we could all cry out at once," resumed the 
brave girl, perhaps — •" And as she spoke she ran to 
her companions in misfortune, and endeavoured to rouse 
them from their stupor, entreating them to join their 
voices to hers. Andrec alone appeared to understand 
what was going on; she half rose upon her knees, but 
immediately fell back again. With a gesture of 
despair, Bellah returned to the opening in the wall 
and gazed through it. 

" I see them!" cried she — " I see them!" 

" Who are they? Do you know them? " said Herve. 



A TAEE OP LA. VENDUE. \li>.> 

" Yes; it is the young officer!" 

" Francis?" 

"With the serjeant and two more — they are mov- 
ing away, hut slowly and sorrowfully." 

" One more cry, Bellah, if you are ahle — in the 
name of heaven ! ' ' 

Bellah repeated her cries at short intervals. 

" Well — well? are they coming back?" asked 
Herve, in a choking voice. 

" Xo! no! I cannot see them now! They have 
already passed that part of the court-yai-d which I 
can see. But they are here again — they are coming 
back — they are at the head of the avenue! — they are 
going! Help! help! Francis! Francis!" 

Bellah had exhausted all her strength in this last 
despairing cry. Herve questioned her again: she an- 
swered in an almost inaudible voice — 

' '■ They have stopped — they turn round. I think — 
yes, I think they must have heard me. They seem to 
be consulting. Ah! misery! they are going — they 
are gone!" 

These last words had hardly passed Bellah's lips, 
when she tottered and fell to the ground, enveloped in 
the folds of her white dress. 

Herve was now seized with a fresh fit of delirium, 
which was rendered still more distressing by intervals 
of reason; by a strange illusion the most delight- 
ful images passed before his eyes, and were imme- 
diately banished again by the fearful reality. He 
fancied that he again heard steps overhead, and the 
dull and continuous sound of men at work; then all 
these noises were lost in the vague murmurs that 
echoed in his ears. Suddenly he thought he must 
be dreaming again — the bright sunshine entered the 
crypt in floods — human figures appeared at the head 
of the steps peering anxiously down. 

"Pelven!" cried a youthful voice from above, al- 
most speechless with emotion. 



254 BELL All; 

"Francis! help, my Francis!" exclaimed Ilerve. 



The old manor-house had been preserved by the 
thickness of its walls from the fury of the conflagra- 
tion, and an hour after the scene which we have at- 
tempted to describe, Colonel Herve was resting on the 
large antique bed in which he had slept the calm sleep 
of his early years. In the embrasure of a window 
an old surgeon in uniform was replacing in a case 
the fearful-looking instruments of his profession. A 
personage whose appearance was at once grave and 
burlesque, and whose striped trousers were concealed 
as far as the knee by an apron of white cloth, was 
supporting the wounded man's head with one hand, 
and with the other was raising a spoonful of broth to 
his lips. 

"By my faith, colonel," said this singular-looking 
sick -nurse, " you must have been gifted with a 
devilish deal of moral force in that catacomb." 

" Yes, my old Brukloux; the night was indeed a 
dreadful one. How is my sister?" 

" She is visibly flourishing, colonel. Everybody 
in general in this house appears to enjoy the thoughts 
of a good dinner. There is only that poor little fellow, 
Kado's son, who still weighs upon my mind. There- 
upon, colonel, I have an idea; I wish to adopt the 
child. He deserves it; for in the first place he is 
an orphan; secondly, he saved my life in the forest; 
thirdly, he has just saved yours. If we had not met 
him in the avenue, and if he had not put our noses 
upon the scent of the cavern, there is no manner of 
doubt but we were marching off for good and all. I 
have therefore determined to be as good as a father 
to him. (Jolibri, on the other hand, offers to be a 
mother, for which office ho is quite competent by 
reason of the gentleness of his character. 



A TALK OP LA VENDEE. 2i)ii 

Francis entered at this moment. 

" Colonel," said he, "Mademoiselle Bcllah is quite 
well since I have assured her that the doctor has an- 
swered for your recovery." 

"I will answer for nothing," interrupted the old 
surgeon, roughly, "if you don't manage to he a 
little more silent. To the right, march! You have 
talked enough!" 

The serjeant and Francis left the room on tiptoe, 
and Ilcrve soon fell into a profound slumber. 



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